New Delhi, Sept 23: Under pressure from the Indian government to comply with the domestic rules, messaging application WhatsApp has appointed a grievance officer for India. The post has been assigned to Komal Lahiri, whose LinkedIn profile describes her as a senior director, global customer operations and localisation. She will be based out of the US.
WhatsApp users in India who need to flag concerns to the grievance officer, or raise query related to their privacy, can do the same via the 'setting' tab of the mobile app. The feature would also allow them to directly reach out to Lahiri. New WhatsApp Update for Android Pie Beta; Gets Notification Preview for Images and Stickers.
A section within FAQs read: “You (users) can contact the Grievance Officer with complaints or concerns, including the following: WhatsApp’s Terms of Service; and Questions about your account”.
India is WhatsApp’s biggest market with more than 200 million users. It, in July, limited message forwards to five chats at a time and had also removed the quick forward button placed next to media messages to discourage mass forwarding. It has also introduced a ‘forward’ label to help users identify such messages.
The latest appointment is also significant as the Supreme Court, last month, had agreed to examine a petition alleging that WhatsApp does not comply with Indian laws, including the provision for appointing a grievance officer. The apex court had sought a reply on the matter within four weeks.
With general elections slated for next year in India, the government is taking a tough stance on use of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp for spread of misinformation.
The government had warned WhatsApp that it will treat the messaging platform as abettor of rumour propagation and legal consequences will follow, if adequate checks are not put in place.
In a meeting held with WhatsApp Head Chris Daniels last month, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had asserted that the company will have to find a solution to track origin of messages on its platform, set up a local corporate entity that is subject to Indian laws within a defined time-frame as well as appoint a grievance officer.
WhatsApp, which has been slapped with two notices with a third one under consideration, has said it is in the process of establishing a local corporate entity.
It has, however, not accepted government’s demand for traceability of messages saying creating such a software will go against the idea of user privacy and end-to-end encryption.
(With agency inputs)