WhatsApp privacy policy battle brewing in South Africa

Hanno Labuschagne

Staff member
Sep 2, 2019
WhatsApp privacy policy battle brewing in South Africa

The Information Regulator of South Africa has informed Parliament that it is considering all its options in its engagements with WhatsApp over the changes it has made to its privacy policy.

The Facebook-owned mobile messaging platform first issued a notice to users about the changes in January, along with an ultimatum — accept the new terms before 8 February 2021 or lose access to WhatsApp.

Facebook extended the deadline to 15 May following widespread backlash, and has since softened its stance further, saying that WhatsApp users will not be immediately cut off and will only start losing functionality in several weeks.
I cannot understand why we are even in this cycle with Facebook, of all things. How did this even happen that we have people insisting on doing their business through a disingenuous, incompetent and frankly dishonest portal owned by this lot. Even the name whatsapp is a joke. I consistently have people wanting to run projects, do business, instructive orders etc through this platform. It is not suitable for this. There is. no metadata, no string of comms, and most courts make it very difficult in terms of verifying communications through this platform. It is a rancid waste of time, and the fact it's 'free' makes people think they can just add you to groups and spout endless brainfart spiral your way ad nauseum. For business, I don not entertain this medium regardless. I instruct those who begin this style of communication to use my other preferred, secure, trusted methods, namely Slack, Discord, email and yes, call me if it's urgent. I wouldn't lose a moments sleep if whatsapp and facebook and all of their stupid vapid garbage was deleted from humanity.
“We feel it’s not going to be particularly successful if we try to engage them just one regulator at a time. We’re going to have to build a coalition to make our intervention effective.”

If POPI Act was solid, clear and sound in law, then this would not have been necessary. Could have hit FB with a Hundred Trillion Rand fine, send the Cape Town management team to 10 years in jail.

Unfortunately, POPI is a s**t law and it will not work in SA.,
Why will POPIA not work in South Africa?

Because it is not suited for the country. Over and above that the law was badly written and cannot be enforced successfully. An uphill battle of court battles still await and it may take many decades before they will get a single cent paid by anyone.
I already exercised my democratic freedom of choice and deleted my Whatsapp account ahead of the first deadline from Whatsapp. Life goes on with SMS, e-mail, Telegram and Signal - those who really counted are anyway on the other services and the 5 or 6 family still stuck on only Whatsapp, get e-mailed and SMS from me. I won't be held hostage by either Facebook nor my friends. We should never get vendor-locked into a single service that is dominated by one company. International open standards is what we should strive for, and supposedly is something that South African government supports through its Minimum Interoperability Standards (MIOS). We owe no favours to Facebook.
It's a odd scenario, popia vs facebook..... whichever side wins we still loose.