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Tribunal extends GovChat’s stay on WhatsApp

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Following the March interim relief order ensuring GovChat is not off-boarded from WhatsApp, the Competition Tribunal has granted the citizen engagement platform a further extension.

In a statement, the tribunal says it has ordered that the March order be further extended to 11 March 2022. However, it has not granted GovChat’s request for the order to be varied.

The tribunal notes its decision follows GovChat and its subsidiary #Let’sTalk’s application for an extension and variation in relation to the interim order handed down in March. The hearing was held online last week.

Government’s official citizen engagement platform GovChat and #Let’sTalk have been at odds with Facebook, Facebook South Africa and WhatsApp.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp alleges GovChat, which conducts citizen engagement on the WhatsApp technology, violatedits terms of use. As a result, it is looking to remove or off-board GovChat from its WhatsApp Business Account (WABA).

GovChat and #Let’sTalk brought an urgent application before the tribunal, seeking interim relief against Facebook, WhatsApp and Facebook South Africa.

In March, the tribunal granted GovChat and #Let’sTalk’s request for interim relief against Facebook, WhatsApp and Facebook South Africa, after they threatened to remove GovChat from WhatsApp.

The order prevented Facebook, WhatsApp and Facebook South Africa from removing GovChat from the WABA, pending the outcome of GovChat’s complaint against the respondents at the Competition Commission, or for a six-month period – whichever occurs first.

The order also prevented GovChat from adding any new clients or users to its WABA, or changing the business offering to its existing clients.

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