The legal battle between Facebook-owned WhatsApp and the Indian government is a bit of a high-stakes game of chess determining both global consumer privacy and the sovereignty of tech companies to build such privacy on their own platforms.
WhatsApp will soon roll out end-to-end encryption for chat backups, shutting down a favorite loophole exploited by law enforcement agencies, and giving WhatsApp an edge of market appeal.
The Irish DPC has taken some heat for perceived softness in issuing GDPR fines to Big Tech. A $267 million fine issued to WhatsApp is the first substantial amount that the Irish regulator has assessed, but it comes amidst accusations and criticism.
Contentious WhatsApp privacy update has caused new consumer complaints to be filed by watchdog groups, which say that users are being unfairly pressured into accepting.
Recent rules passed in India that threaten end-to-end encryption are being challenged in court by WhatsApp. New "traceability" rules require social media platforms with at least five million users to be able to identify the originator of a message.
New privacy labels that Apple requires are revealing some major differences between competing messaging apps, best illustrated by setting Signal next to the voracious Facebook Messenger.
WhatsApp has been in a year-long battle against Israeli firm NSO Group over unauthorized use of its cyber surveillance tools on the platform. Fellow Silicon Valley firms are filing amicus briefs in support.