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Centre Writes To WhatsApp, Says Will Not Accept Unilateral Changes To Privacy Policy

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The Indian government wrote to WhatsApp on Tuesday and said that any unilateral changes to the social messaging app’s terms of service or privacy will not be acceptable to the government.

The moves comes after the instant messaging app received a lot of backlash in India over its new privacy policy. The new policy has raised concerns among many sections of the society with many experts alleging that the company was sharing data with its parent company, Facebook.

The Centre earlier said that it is investigating WhatsApp’s new privacy policy and asserted that sanctity of personal communication needs to be maintained.

WhatsApp, on its part, has maintained that messages on the platform are end-to-end encrypted and that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see the private messages on WhatsApp’s platform.

Speaking at the 15th India Digital Summit, Communications, Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad noted that national security will be central with regard to exposure of international companies, including those based in China.

“This is an issue that my department is (working) on, and being the final authority, it will not be proper for me to make comments. But except to flag one thing very clearly. Be it WhatsApp, be it Facebook, be it any digital platform. You are free to do business in India but do it in a manner without impinging upon the rights of Indians who operate there,” Prasad said.

He added that the sanctity of personal communications needs to be maintained. “I’ve only spoken on principles, given that my department is working. I have to await that,” he said.

Earlier this month, WhatsApp had informed users of an update in its terms of service and privacy policy around how it processes user data and partners with Facebook to offer integrations across the social media giant’s products. Users had till February 8, to agree to the new terms in order to continue using the platform.

However, WhatsApp drew flak from users across the globe, including India that ranks among the biggest markets for WhatsApp with over 400 million users.

Following this, WhatsApp has now decided to delay the rollout of its new policy update to May 15, and said it will “do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp”.

WhatsApp had also stated that 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.

(With PTI inputs)


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