- The Competition Tribunal will hear a case by GovChat, which is applying to prevent WhatsApp from removing it from paid business chat service.
- Facebook argues that GovChat breached the terms of the paid chat service.
- GovChat argues that the removal will affect citizen engagement with government in the middle of the second Covid-19 wave and put GovChat out of business.
The Competition Tribunal is set to hear representations from Facebook's instant messaging application WhatsApp on Wednesday, as the founder of a government citizen engagement platform seeks an interdict to prevent its removal from the service.
WhatsApp is a mobile application under the parent company Facebook, along with Messenger, Instagram and Source 3.
This also happens while WhatsApp prepares for a shift in its data policy that is set to kick in from February, of which it has notified its more than 2 billion users globally. This includes WhatsApp reserving the right to share its data such as locations and contacts with the Facebook network.
GovChat was launched in 2018 in partnership with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs as a WhatsApp "chatbot" to engage with citizens. But Facebook maintains its rights to enforce terms of its paid business messaging platform, which it says GovChat breached.
GovChat argues in its application that Facebook's removal of GovChat from WhatsApp's API will end GovChat's ability to services the government and citizens during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa and force GovChat out of business.