MeitY Urges WhatsApp to Withdraw its New Policy; Gives 7 Days Window Period

Story Highlights
  • Government object WhatsApp’s privacy update urges withdrawal
  • Issues 7 days deadline to roll back policy
  • India - WhatsApp's largest market

New Delhi: The Indian government is displeased with Facebook after it announced an updated privacy policy. The new policy formalizes WhatsApp to share some personal information such as users’ phone numbers and location with parent firm Facebook. WhatsApp has clarified that communication between two individuals remains just as private as before.  

Subsequently, MeitY questioned the Facebook-owned firm as to why it needs to enforce the updates to its terms of service only to users in India when those in the EU have been exempted from it. India is WhatsApp’s biggest market with over 450 million users.  

On Tuesday, MeitY in a written letter addressed to TechCrunch gave the popular instant messaging provider seven days to offer a “satisfactory” response. Failure to do so, the ministry warned, will prompt lawful measures.  The letter read,” in fulfilment of its sovereign responsibility to protect the rights and interests of Indian citizens, the government of India will consider various options available to it under laws in India.”  The letter comes at a time when the ministry is also pursuing a legal case on this matter in the Delhi High Court. 

 Following backlash from several governments and users, WhatsApp earlier this year delayed enforcement of the privacy update by three months — to May 15. In response to a petition filed in the Delhi High Court, WhatsApp argued that many Indian firms maintain similar policies and share more data. It quoted food delivery start-up Zomato, ride-hailing giant Ola, online grocer BigBasket, as some examples that gain a huge market from India.

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