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‘Chats are Protected,’ Says Whatsapp As Govt Questions New Policy

Cathcart has been asked to furnish responses to queries regarding the privacy, data transfer and sharing policies.

Updated
Tech and Auto
2 min read
Image used for representational purpose.
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The Government of India on Tuesday, 19 January, wrote to the CEO of WhatsApp, Will Cathcart, asking the messaging platform to withdraw the proposed changes to its Privacy Policy for Indian users, ANI reported.

WhatsApp, on its part, on Wednesday, said that the proposed changes do not expand their ability to share user data with Facebook.

“We wish to reinforce that this update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook. Our aim is to provide transparency and new options available to engage with businesses so they can serve their customers and grow.”   
WhatsApp spokesperson said, in a statement

Further, the spokesperson said that WhatsApp continues to protect personal messages with end-to-end encryption.

The WhatsApp spokesperson also said, as per the statement, that they “are working to address misinformation and remain available to answer any questions.”

What Had the Government Said?

CEO of WhatsApp, Cathcart, was asked to furnish responses to the government’s query regarding the privacy, data transfer and sharing policies, ANI had reported, quoting sources.

According to a report by The Times of India, the government had sent some questions to WhatsApp on the issue. They also objected to the differential privacy policies for EU and India, adding that having a lenient update for Europe while being stringent in India is discriminatory in nature.

Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has reportedly raised concerns about the users’ information security, adding that the update and data-sharing with Facebook will expose Indian users to “greater security risks and vulnerabilities, creating a honeypot of information.”

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MEITY also raised objections to the “all-or-nothing” approach that forces WhatsApp users to accept the new service terms and privacy policies.

It further asked the social media platform why they are trying to implement such significant changes at a time when the Parliament of India is amid consideration of the Personal Data Protection Bill.

Whatsapp Defers 8 Feb Deadline

In a major reversal of its notification, WhatsApp announced on Saturday that “no one will have their account suspended or deleted on 8 February” for not accepting the messaging platform’s updated privacy policy and terms of service.

In a privacy policy update on 5 January, WhatsApp had given its 2 billion users across the world time till 8 February to accept its updated policy or be unable to use the app.

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Following widespread pushback against the ultimatum and fears of privacy compromise, Whatsapp announced on Saturday in a blog it was “moving back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms.” It further added that users would be allowed “to review the policy at their own pace.”

In what appears to be damage control for its inability to communicate its changes clearly when the company announced the new policy on 5 January, it further announced on Twitter “we will make sure users have plenty of time to review and understand the terms. Rest assured we never planned to delete any accounts based on this and will not do so in the future.”

(With inputs from ANI and The Times of India.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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