WhatsApp says working on addressing misinformation on privacy policy as India takes strong stand against update

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Updated: January 20, 2021 3:52 PM

WhatsApp also reinforced that the changes would in no way violate the privacy of any chats and calls of individuals, which are protected by end-to-end encryption.

whatsapp privacy policy updateThe development is important and troubling for WhatsApp. (Image: Reuters)

WhatsApp privacy policy: After it was asked by the Government of India to withdraw recent changes to its terms of service and privacy policy, instant messaging platform WhatsApp has said that it is working to address all ‘misinformation’ on the update, reiterating that these changes will not allow it to share more user data with parent company Facebook. WhatsApp said it is open to answering any questions on the issue, after India’s IT ministry asked the platform 14 questions regarding these changes that would be “invasive” to the privacy of users. The company also said that the new policy changes only mean to provide transparency as well as new options with the business accounts on the platform so that they could grow.

Also read | India sends strong message to WhatsApp, asks it to withdraw controversial privacy policy update

WhatsApp also reinforced that the changes would in no way violate the privacy of any chats and calls of individuals, which are protected by end-to-end encryption. These chats and calls, which cover all private as well as group chats and calls of non-business accounts, cannot be accessed by either WhatsApp or Facebook, the platform said.

The Facebook-owned company also asserted that it is working to address any misinformation regarding this issue.

Earlier, on Tuesday, the Union Ministry told WhatsApp to roll back the changes it has proposed to bring into effect in May, asserting that the lack of choice given to users with regard to the acceptance of such terms was a cause of grave concern regarding user privacy. Further asserting that with 40 crore users, India is one of the largest markets for WhatsApp, the ministry told the platform to inform them about the services the platform provides in India, the data it collects, and the consents and permissions it seeks from the users. The ministry also told the platform to rethink its stance regarding its approach to the freedom of choice of users, data security as well as information privacy.

WhatsApp has been under fire for its recent controversial privacy policy update and users have been looking to move to alternative platforms. Amidst this, the ministry received several complaints from users, after which it began the evaluation of these policies with regard to the existing legal framework in India.

The development is important and troubling for WhatsApp. This is especially because the Government of India, over the past 6 months, has banned hundreds of Chinese apps over privacy concerns, including popular apps like TikTok and PUBG, sending out a strong message that apps must not violate the privacy of Indian users in order to continue functioning in the country. Moreover, the ministry also has the leverage of asking for a Europe-like exemption from these policy changes.

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