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India gives WhatsApp 7 days to roll back new privacy policy: Report


India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on Wednesday has directed Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp to take back its contentious new privacy policy, according to government sources quoted by ANI.

According to MeitY, deferral of the privacy policy beyond May 15, 2021, does not absolve WhatsApp from respecting the values of informational privacy, data security and user choice for Indian users, sources told ANI. MeitY has reportedly given WhatsApp seven days to reply to its notice. If WhatsApp’s response isn’t deemed satisfactory, the Indian government may take legal action against the Facebook-owned company.

The sources have maintained that WhatsApp meting out discriminatory treatment to Indian users compared to those in Europe is unacceptable. They have also claimed that with its new privacy policy, WhatsApp is misusing its dominant position as a messaging platform in the Indian market. India is WhatsApp’s largest market with 400 Mn users as of January this year.

Many Indian users depend on WhatsApp for communicating and it’s irresponsible for WhatsApp to leverage its position in the Indian market to impose unfair terms and conditions, MeitY is reported to have said.

WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, which allows the company to collect sensitive data from users’ chats with WhatsApp business accounts, was supposed to roll out on May 15. The company had initially maintained that users who don’t accept the privacy policy update will lose access to their WhatsApp account, leading to an uproar on social media. WhatsApp has since clarified in courts that no user accounts will be deleted. However, the platform will continue sending reminders to its users for accepting the privacy policy update.

The Indian government has maintained that WhatsApp’s privacy policy goes against India’s IT rules. An earlier petition in the Delhi High Court had sought directions to the Centre to force WhatsApp to either roll back its new policy update or provide users with an opt-out option.