New WhatsApp policies discriminatory towards Indians, withdraw them: MeitY

Amid the rising controversy over WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, the Indian government has asked the messaging app to withdraw the recent changes in its privacy policy, saying that the proposed changes in the policy “raise grave concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens,” PTI reported on Tuesday.

The ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) wrote a letter to WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart saying that India is home to the largest user base of WhatsApp globally and is one the biggest markets for its services.

Now, the ministry has asked the Facebook-owned company to withdraw new proposed changes to the WhatsApp Terms of Service and Privacy Policy and reconsider its approach to information privacy, freedom of choice, and data security.

MeitY further said that the company should respect the Indians and “any unilateral changes to the WhatsApp Terms of Service and Privacy would not be fair and acceptable.”

This latest report of MeitY writing to WhatsApp comes a day after the Delhi High court said that people have the liberty to choose if they want to join the messaging app or not based on its terms and conditions as the new privacy policy is a “voluntary’ thing.

Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said to the petitioner, a lawyer, who has challenged WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, “It is a private app. Don’t join it. It is a voluntary thing, don’t accept it. Use some other app. Even Google Maps captures all your data and stores it.”

In addition, the Delhi High Court also said that it did not get any clarity on what data would be leaked as per the petitioner and since the issue requires consideration, it will be listed on January 25 due to paucity of time on Monday. The Centre has also agreed to the same and said that this issue needs to be looked at.

Meanwhile, Whatsapp has claimed that the private chat messages between family and friends would remain encrypted and cannot be stored by WhatsApp and this position would not change under the new policy. It further assured that only the business chats will get affected due to the change in policy.

Though the privacy policy change was scheduled to come into effect in February, however, now it has now been deferred till May.

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