Indian ministry calls on WhatsApp to withdraw updated privacy policy

We’ve seen users complain about WhatsApp’s new privacy policy and we’ve even seen some ditch the messaging app and move to rivals Signal and Telegram. And now we’re hearing from a ministry from one of their biggest markets, asking them to reconsider implementing the policy. India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has sent a “strongly worded letter” to WhatsApp, asking for the withdrawal of the changes in their privacy policy, even as the Delhi High Court has told a petitioner that WhatsApp is a voluntary app so they can just choose to not use the platform if they disagree with their policies.

In the letter to WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart, MeitY stated that the changes to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy are causing “grave concerns” when it comes to the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens. They are asking the Facebook-owned messaging platform to reconsider how they look at things like information privacy, freedom of choice, and data security. In short, they are asking WhatsApp to discard the policy changes as per Gadgets 360.

But Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva of the Delhi High Court told a petitioner that is challenging the new privacy policy that it is still a matter of choice since it’s a private app and so users have the option to not join or not agree to the policies and just “use some other app”. The court said they do not understand what data will be “leaked” to parent company Facebook but said the issue does need to be analyzed.

During the hearing, representatives from WhatsApp and Facebook said that many of the issues brought up have no basis. They clarified that chat messages between family and friends will remain private and encrypted even under the new policy. What will be affected are the business chats with brands but those are optional and they will be clear as to how the data and information will be used.

Originally, the new policy was to have taken effect this February but because of the uproar and all the misinformation going around, WhatsApp decided to move the deadline to May. Users have until then to try and understand the new terms before deciding to accept it or to just move to another messaging platform.

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