Skip to main content

To: Competition Commission South Africa and the Information Regulator South Africa

Stop Facebook forcing us to give up our personal info to use WhatsApp

Stop Facebook forcing us to give up our personal info to use WhatsApp

Facebook is forcing us to accept WhatsApp’s new privacy policy by the 15th of May 2021. In the middle of a pandemic, we either agree to give up our personal information, or we won’t be able to send or read messages on WhatsApp. WhatsApp has helped people stay in touch with loved ones during these difficult times.

Facebook and WhatsApp dominate the global market for social networks and messaging services, and that is why Competition Authorities, from India to the United States, have taken action [1]. Those in Europe are not affected by this new privacy policy because the European Union and their General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) stopped Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s plans [2]. We call on the Competition Commission to use it’s Memorandum of Understanding with the Directorate-General Competition of the European Commission, to leverage the European Union's ability to assist with enforcement [3]. International cooperation around enforcement is one of the few options we have to hold these multinationals to account.

We call on you to fulfil your mandate and protect the 23 million WhatsApp users in Mzansi [4]. We can hold these multinational companies to account. The Competition Tribunals recent interdict helped stop Facebook and WhatsApp from removing GovChat from the WhatsApp platform [5]. Competition Commissions and regulators across the world have taken action. All 28 European Union data protection authorities asked Whatsapp in 2017 to stop sharing users’ data with parent company Facebook due to doubts over the validity of users’ consent [6]. We don’t know what this new privacy policy means for competition and what it means for the Protection of Personal Information Act.

Facebook is giving us no choice but to accept the new WhatsApp privacy policy to keep sending and receiving messages. Please do everything in your power to try to stop Mark Facebook from forcing people to agree to the privacy policy by the 15th of May 2021.
This campaign is part of a larger global campaign to stop Facebook and #SaveWhatsApp https://www.savewhatsapp.org/.

[1] Why is this a problem for competition? - Briefing compiled by the Save WhatsApp campaign. https://www.savewhatsapp.org/assets/docs/en-competition.pdf

[2] Why is this a problem for privacy? - Briefing compiled by the Save WhatsApp campaign. https://www.savewhatsapp.org/assets/docs/en-privacy.pdf

[3] EU and South Africa Memorandum of Understanding regarding enforcement of competition laws. http://www.compcom.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/MOU-between-DG-Comp-and-CCSA-22-June-2016.pdf

[4] Tribunal grants GovChat, #LETSTALK interim relief against Whatsapp and Facebook. https://www.comptrib.co.za/info-library/case-press-releases/tribunal-grants-govchat-letstalk-interim-relief-against-whatsapp-and-facebook

[5] Penetration rate of social media in South Africa 2020: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1189958/penetration-rate-of-social-media-in-south-africa/

[6] Italy: Regulator fines Whatsapp €3m for data sharing: https://www.competitionpolicyinternational.com/italy-regulator-fines-whatsapp-e3m-for-data-sharing/

Why is this important?

When Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014, their CEO Mark Zuckerberg said: “We are absolutely not going to change plans around WhatsApp and the way it uses user data. WhatsApp is going to operate completely autonomously.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg lied. They went ahead and updated WhatsApp’s terms and conditions in 2016, Facebook gave itself access to a wide range of our personal data without our permission. Now, we only have until 15th May until Whatsapp goes back on their word and forces users to opt-in to their terms and conditions. This cannot be allowed.

The South African law protects us as users and places emphasis on our protection against companies and corporates that infringe on our privacy laws. “The POPI Act broadly requires businesses to limit their use of personal data, get consent before using it, and let users withdraw their consent later on [1].” Whatsapp completely disregards this act and leaves users with no form of consent before or after signing into the terms and conditions.

Mzansi recently introduced new laws to protect people's personal information. “The POPI Act broadly requires businesses to limit their use of personal data, get consent before using it, and let users withdraw their consent later on [1].” Many aspects of POPI are similar to European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which has helped protect people in Europe from companies using their personal information without their consent.

Billions of people around the world use Facebook services - Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram - in order to connect with friends and family. WhatsApp is the main company world wide with over 2 billion users. This gives Facebook the power to coerce people to share their personal information so they can profit even more than they have.

[1] South Africa's POPI Act: https://www.freeprivacypolicy.com/blog/popi/#:~:text=The%20POPI%20Act%20broadly%20requires,done%20in%20a%20Privacy%20Policy.


Reasons for signing

  • As a collective humanity needs to constantly protect itself from exploitation and manipulation. Currently we are facing a massive onslaught on our hard gained rights to our individual freedoms and it is essential that we retain the ability to express our views freely without fear of reprisal , censorship or manipulation .
  • My information, my choice, no company should be able to control what is done with my data or twist my arm on that regard
  • To protect my personal information from being used by FB without my permission

Updates

2021-05-14 09:30:54 +0200

UPDATE: SA regulator seeks legal advice on WhatsApp's new privacy policy

South Africa’s information Regulator says it is seeking legal advice to get messaging platform WhatsApp to revise its privacy policy in the country to align with standards in the EU.

“We are obligated as the Regulator to ensure the protection of personal information of all South African citizens and monitor compliance of the POPIA by responsible parties.” Chairperson of the Regulator, Advocate Pansy Tlaluka https://www.news24.com/fin24/Companies/sa-regulator-seeks-legal-advice-on-whatsapps-new-privacy-policy-20210513

2021-05-10 14:29:45 +0200

100 signatures reached

2021-05-10 13:53:49 +0200

50 signatures reached

2021-05-10 13:16:45 +0200

25 signatures reached

2021-05-09 14:54:18 +0200

10 signatures reached