Privacy policy: WhatsApp responds to govt notice, says update doesn’t change privacy of user’s personal messages

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May 25, 2021 4:15 AM

“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,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.

wahtsappThe new WhatsApp privacy policy affects data concerning exchanges with WhatsApp Business accounts and not the regular WhatsApp accounts.

Responding to the government’s notice regarding the revised privacy policy, WhatsApp on Monday assured that the update does not change the privacy of people’s personal messages. The Facebook-owned firm said it will keep reminding users about the new update but accounts won’t be deleted in the coming few weeks. The company said that it will maintain this approach until at least the forthcoming personal data protection law comes into effect.

“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,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.

On May 18, the ministry of electronics and information technology (Meity) had shot off a second missive to WhatsApp to roll back its new privacy policy, implemented with effect from May 15, or face action under the country’s laws.

The government had warned that if it did not receive any satisfactory response in seven days, it would initiate action in consonance with the laws. The basic objective of the government was that the changes to the privacy policy and the manner of introducing them, 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”.

WhatsApp has indicated earlier also that accounts of those users who do not accept the new terms and conditions, will not be deleted for the time being but Meity insisted that it “does not absolve WhatsApp from respecting the values of informational privacy, data security and user choice for Indian users”.

“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. 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,” a WhatsApp spokesperson added.

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