MPF notifies Anatel about unlimited WhatsApp on cell phone plans | Legislation

The Federal Public Ministry (MPF) prepared a letter with Cade (Administrative Council for Economic Defense) sent to the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) to investigate the impacts of the new privacy policy of WhatsApp on the mobile phone market in Brazil. The federal agencies want to know if Anatel analyzed the effects of the change in plans for operators that offer the messaging app in an unlimited way and at a zero rate, such as Tim, Oi, Vivo and Claro.


WhatsApp App (Image: Anton/Pexels)

WhatsApp privacy policy is the focus of the craft

O Techblog had access to the official letter prepared by MPF/Cade registered at the beginning of the month by Anatel’s Electronic Process System (SEI). In the document, the Regional Attorney of the Republic, Waldir Alves, requires explanations on how mobile operators plan to sell unlimited WhatsApp plans to users who do not accept the new privacy rules of the app.

The note requires data from Anatel on the impact of updating the application on contracts for plans that sell the messenger at a zero rate, already available on the market — which is why Cade also signs the letter. If users reject the conditions to share data with Facebook, the MPF wants to know if there will be changes in the clauses for these customers.

Federal inspection agencies ask Anatel to provide details of the plans of operators such as Tim, Claro, Oi and Vivo, which have franchises with WhatsApp and Facebook with unlimited messaging. Due to the predominant use in Brazil — 98% of Brazilians have the app installed on their smartphones, according to data from Mobile Time — The fear of the MPF and Cade is that Mark Zuckerberg’s social network will gain a competitive advantage with the privacy policy tied to mobile phone packages.

Anatel must explain why WhatsApp benefits

In terms of competitiveness in the messenger app market, the letter asks why operators only add WhatsApp in zero rate plans, and not other messengers, such as Signal and Telegram; MPF and Cade want to know if the packages, which offer unlimited messages on Facebook apps, give undue advantage to mobile network companies that offer it for free, such as Tim, Oi, Claro and Vivo.

Anatel (Image: Disclosure)

Anatel (Image: Disclosure)

Deeper, Anatel must clarify whether operators get another type of remuneration for offering WhatsApp and Facebook for free, in addition to that provided for the sale of plans; it also needs to provide information about data sharing between these apps, such as phone number, personal documents, and users’ locations.

The exchange of data should not be limited to WhatsApp and Facebook — MPF attorney Waldir Alves wants an analysis by Anatel on the sharing of data between operators operating in the market, obtained by mobile devices.

Free WhatsApp plans can lead to monopoly

On May 15th, WhatsApp issued a notice about its new privacy policy for users. In it, the app warned: those who did not accept the new conditions for exchanging data with Facebook would have limited use and some features would be restricted.

The MPF recognizes in another letter of the process that the imposition can be circumvented by using other platforms such as Telegram and Signal, but that these are not aware of WhatsApp’s market strength. The note to Anatel is relevant, in this sense, because mobile phone plans that benefit from WhatsApp can lead to a complete monopoly of the platform.

In response to the letter from the Federal Public Ministry, Anatel attached a document prepared in 2016 with a study carried out by the telecommunications agency on the “zero tariff” plans for Oi, Tim, Vivo and Claro.

Of course, Oi, Tim and Vivo have unlimited WhatsApp plans (Image: Tatiana Vieira / Tecnoblog)

Of course, Oi, Tim and Vivo have unlimited WhatsApp plans (Image: Tatiana Vieira / Tecnoblog)

Anatel’s document accompanies a table of mobile operators that offer unlimited data packages to access Facebook apps such as WhatsApp and Instagram. The list includes 8 packages from Claro, 32 from Tim and 29 from Vivo, among others — they all offer WhatsApp free of discount.

According to the table attached by the MPF and CADE, around 65% of the plans are prepaid. Then approximately 17% of plans are scrutinized — with a pre-set spending limit, but which is paid at the end of the month. Finally, 16% are post-paid mobile phone packages.

In addition to preparing the letter together with Cade, the MPF notified the opening of the Administrative Proceeding to the National Data Protection Authority (ANPD), the National Consumer Defense Secretariat (SENACON) and the Idec – Consumer Defense Institute.

Collaborated: Everton Favretto

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