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WhatsApp Gets 7-Day Notice to Withdraw New Privacy Policy in India

MEitY pointed out how WhatsApp’s new privacy policy violated several provisions of Indian laws and rules.

Updated
Tech and Auto
2 min read
WhatsApp has been criticised for implementing its controversial privacy policy.
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With the Indian government once again directing WhatsApp to withdraw its controversial user privacy policy that came into effect, from 15 May, the Facebook-owned platform with over 400 million users in the country on Wednesday, 19 May, defended its position, saying that it continues to engage with the government to resolve the issue.

Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) gave WhatsApp a seven-day ultimatum. If no satisfactory response is received, necessary steps in consonance with the law will be taken, said ministry sources.

According to news agency ANI, MEitY pointed out how WhatsApp’s new privacy policy violated several provisions of Indian laws and rules.

"The Government of India will consider various options available under the laws in India," government sources told ANI.

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The official further said, "As you're doubtlessly aware, many Indian citizens depend on WhatsApp to communicate in everyday life. It is not just problematic, but also irresponsible for WhatsApp to leverage this position to impose unfair terms and conditions on Indian users, particularly those that discriminate against Indian users vis-à-vis users in Europe."

The letter reiterated how WhatsApp discriminated against Indian users as compared to Europeans. It stated that while European users had the option to opt out of the policy, Indian users did not enjoy the same right.

Earlier, WhatsApp claimed that it had deferred its new Privacy Policy beyond 15 May. However, the Ministry in its communication stated that deferral of the privacy policy beyond May 15 does not “absolve WhatsApp from respecting the values of information privacy, data security and choice for Indian users”.

WhatsApp’s Response

Soon after, the messaging platform responded, saying, “We continue to engage with the government and we reaffirm what we said before that this update does not impact the privacy of personal messages for anyone.”

“Our goal is to provide information about new options we are building that people will have, to message a business on WhatsApp, in the future,”
Statement from WhatsApp

The company said that while the majority of users who have received the new terms of service have accepted them, it appreciated that some people haven’t had the chance to do so yet.

“No accounts were deleted on May 15 because of this update and no one in India lost functionality of WhatsApp either. We will follow up with reminders to people over the next several weeks,” a spokesperson said.

“We’re grateful for the important role WhatsApp plays in people’s lives and we’ll take every opportunity to explain how we protect people’s personal messages and private information,” the statement further read.

(With inputs from ANI.)

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