“We wish to reinforce that this update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook. Our aim is to provide transparency and new options available to engage with businesses so they can serve their customers and grow,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.
The spokesperson added that WhatsApp will always protect personal messages with end-to-end encryption, so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see them.
“We are working to address misinformation and remain available to answer any questions,” the spokesperson further stated.
The letter noted that with over 400 million users in India, the changes will have a disproportionate impact on the country’s citizens, it said.
It has also asked WhatsApp to provide details of the services provided by it in India, categories of data collected and permissions and consents sought. It has also asked WhatsApp to withdraw the proposed changes and reconsider its approach to information privacy, freedom of choice and data security.
In the updated policy, it got a right to share data it collected from WhatsApp users with the broader Facebook network, which includes Instagram, regardless of owning any accounts or profiles there. Some businesses, as per the new policy, were to use Facebook-owned servers to store messages.
This triggered an outcry regardless of WhatsApp’s assertion that all private messages between friends and family members remain end-to-end encrypted.
“No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8. We’re also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp. We’ll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15,” WhatsApp had said in the blog post.
It also sought to assuage user concerns through its tweets by its Global Head Will Cathcart and even full-page ads in leading dailies in India.