WhatsApp responds to GOI's letter, says 'new update doesn't change privacy of people's personal messages'

·3-min read
Representative image
Representative image

New Delhi [India], May 24 (ANI): Messaging app WhatsApp on Monday apprised the Government of India (GOI) that its recent update does not change the privacy of people's personal messages.

"We have responded to the Government of India's letter and assured them that the privacy of users remains our highest priority. As a reminder, the recent update does not change the privacy of people's personal messages. Its purpose is to provide additional information about how people can interact with businesses if they choose to do so," said a WhatsApp spokesperson.

The messaging app clarified that it will not limit the functionality of services and would continue to remind users from time to time about the updates.

"We will not limit the functionality of how WhatsApp works in the coming weeks. Instead, we will continue to remind users from time to time about the update as well as when people choose to use relevant optional features, like communicating with a business that is receiving support from Facebook," the spokesperson said.

"We hope this approach reinforces the choice that all users have whether or not they want to interact with a business. We will maintain this approach until at least the forthcoming PDP law comes into effect," he added.

Last week, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology directed messaging app WhatsApp to take back its new privacy policy and demanded a reply within seven days.

"WhatsApp had earlier claimed that it officially deferred its new 'Privacy Policy' beyond May 15. However, the Ministry in its communication today stated that deferral of the privacy policy beyond May 15 does not absolve WhatsApp from respecting the values of informational privacy, data security, and user choice for Indian users," sources had told ANI.

They said that in a communication sent to WhatsApp on May 15, the Ministry has once again told WhatsApp to withdraw its 'Privacy Policy 2021' as the "changes to the privacy policy and the manner of introducing these changes including in FAQ undermines the sacrosanct values of informational privacy, data security and user choice for Indian users and harms the rights and interests of Indian citizens."

Taking up the issue of discriminatory treatment to Indian users vis-a-vis users in Europe, the Ministry had further stated that, "As you are doubtlessly aware, many Indian citizens depend on WhatsApp to communicate in everyday life. It is not just problematic, but also irresponsible, for WhatsApp to leverage this position to impose unfair terms and conditions on Indian users, particularly those that discriminate against Indian users vis-a-vis users in Europe."

"The Ministry in its communication has drawn the attention of WhatsApp as to how its new Privacy Policy is a violation of several provisions of the existing Indian laws and rules. In fulfillment of its sovereign responsibility to protect the rights and interests of Indian citizens, the GOI will consider various options available to it under laws in India. The government has given seven days time to WhatsApp to respond to his notice and if no satisfactory response is received, necessary steps in consonance with the law will be taken," sources had said. (ANI)