Centre writes to Whatsapp CEO demanding withdrawal of privacy policy

Centre writes to Whatsapp CEO demanding withdrawal of privacy policy

The ministry asked WhatsApp to withdraw the proposed changes and reconsider its approach to information privacy, freedom of choice and data security.

The Indian government has asked WhatsApp to withdraw the recent changes in the privacy policy of the messaging app, saying unilateral changes are not fair and acceptable.

In a strongly worded letter to WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said India is home to the largest user base of WhatsApp globally and is one the biggest markets for its services.

The proposed changes to the WhatsApp Terms of Service and Privacy Policy "raise grave concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens," it wrote.

The ministry asked WhatsApp to withdraw the proposed changes and reconsider its approach to information privacy, freedom of choice and data security.

Stating that Indians should be properly respected, it said, "any unilateral changes to the WhatsApp Terms of Service and Privacy would not be fair and acceptable."

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has written to WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart, over the recent changes to the messaging app's privacy policy. The CEO has been reportedly asked to furnish responses to the government's query regarding the privacy, data transfer and sharing policies.

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This comes amid users concerned about the privacy of their data amid apprehensions that WhatsApp was sharing the data with its parent company Facebook.

Facing massive criticism from users globally, including India, WhatsApp has already decided to delay the rollout of its new policy update to May 15. In a blog post, WhatsApp said it is moving back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms.

"No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8. We're also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp. We'll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15," it said in the blog post.

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WhatsApp, on its part, has said it is open to answering any questions from the government on the issue and that it remains committed to the privacy and security of users across India and will continue to explain to users that their messages are end-to-end encrypted.

It also sought to assuage user concerns through its blog post, tweets by its Global Head Will Cathcart and even full-page ads in leading dailies in India.

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