Ministry of Electronics asks Whatsapp to withdraw changes to privacy policy, disclose data sharing practice

The action by Meity comes at a time when the proposed Data Protection Bill is in advanced stages and may be tabled in the parliament during the upcoming Budget session.

Published: 19th January 2021 03:35 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th January 2021 03:35 PM   |  A+A-


Image used for representational purpose

Express News Service

BENGALURU: India’s ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) has asked Whatsapp CEO, Will Cathcart to withdraw the new measures which will be included in the updated privacy policy, likely to be implemented from May 16.

MeitY has sought the responses from Facebook owned instant messaging service regarding the data share practices that it intends to implement in the country including the name of the companies/ entities, the nature of data transfer as well as applicability of the user consent.  The ministry has come down heavily on Whatsapp questioning it of the differential privacy policy in Europe where the local governments have stipulated that no such measures can be implemented.

ALSO READ: WhatsApp defers its privacy policy until May 15, Signal downloads soar 9483%

The government said that the company has shown a lack of respect for the privacy of the Indian users despite it being the largest market for the messaging service. The action by MeitY comes at a time when the proposed Data Protection Bill is in advanced stages and may be tabled in the parliament during the upcoming Budget session.

Minister of Electronics and Information technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad earlier said during the India digital summit organised by the Internet and Mobile Association of India that while digital platforms are welcome to do their business in india, the privacy of users cannot be impinged. “Be it WhatsApp or any other digital platform, you are free to do business in India but do it in a manner without in bringing upon the rights of Indians who operate and sanctity of personal communication needs to be maintained,” he added.

ALSO READ: Open to answering any queries from government on privacy policy update, says WhatsApp

Experts have flagged that with a likelihood of implementation of India’s maiden Data protection bill, Whtaspp will not be in a position to implement the the updated privacy policy especially since due to the bill envisaging that the data of the suer should be used for the purposes that do not have user consent.

MeitY has sent a questionnaire to the Whatsapp asking for disclosures of the firm’s privacy policy region-wise, nature of the data to be shared, acess of user’s mobile phone apps/ data, location of its data servers, user content conditions, details of the third-part apps with which the data is shared.

Earlier, the messaging giant, which came under fire due to the new policy, clarified that it has no acess to the personal chats/ call logs/ user location, which remains end-to-end encrypted.

ALSO READ: Telegram crosses 500-million subscriber mark led by user additions in Asia amid WhatsApp's privacy policy update

However, any communication shared with the business accounts will be shared with the parent Firm Facebook to drive its marketing business.

Whatsapp’s installs in India have fallen by 35% from January 6-10, leading to user migration to rival apps - Signal and Telegram - which recorded massive onboarding of users, focussed on security.


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