Plea in SC against WhatsApp payments service

Aug 09, 2018, 08:34 IST | PTI

Almost one million people are "testing" WhatsApp's payments service in India, which is the largest base for the Facebook-owned company that has over 1.5 billion users globally

Plea in SC against WhatsApp payments service
Representational Picture

A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking direction to the Centre to restrain WhatsApp from proceeding with its payments systems unless it fully complies with provisions of the RBI. The plea filed by organisation Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change said the messaging platform does not comply with provision of mandating Grievance Officer and other laws of India.

To open a bank account, a customer needs to comply with KYC norms laid down by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and various other formalities, the plea said. "WhatsApp is a foreign company with no office or servers in India. To run Payments Service in India, WhatsApp is obligated to have its office and payments in India. "Moreover, it is also required to have a Grievance Officer for users in India. Yet, it is being allowed to continue with its Payments and other services, without any checks," the plea, which is likely to come up for hearing this week, said.

The petition also said the social media giant does not comply with tax and other laws of India but its reach is such that it is used by everyone, be it a commoner or the judges of the apex court. The plea, filed through advocate Virag Gupta, said that every user has a number on WhatsApp but the messaging platform has no number through which its user can contact it for any grievance redressal.

It also pointed out various rumour based crimes that had happened in the country and said that the growth of such incidents was directly proportional to growth of user base of messaging services like WhatsApp. "Companies like Facebook Inc. and Google Inc. have appointed Grievance Officer for users in India, but WhatsApp has not. However, the Grievance Officer of Facebook sits in Ireland, and the Grievance Officer of Google sits in USA and are thus rendered ineffective.

"In order to make Respondent No. 6 (WhatsApp) accountable, it must be directed to comply with Indian Law and appoint Grievance Officer, who shall be the person to address grievance of consumers, as well as co-ordinate with investigating agencies," the petition said. WhatsApp has over 200 million users in India. Almost one million people are "testing" WhatsApp's payments service in India, which is the largest base for the Facebook-owned company that has over 1.5 billion users globally.

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