India Tells WhatsApp to Rollback Privacy Policy

WhatsApp LLC’s new privacy policy has drawn the ire of the Indian government, according to a TechCrunch article by Manish Singh published on Wednesday. The previous day, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) reportedly sent a letter to the Facebook-owned messaging service instructing the company to withdraw its planned policy update.

Within seven days, WhatsApp must provide a “satisfactory response,” to MeitY’s directive, or face legal consequences, TechCrunch reported. The news outlet remarked that the letter coincides with a MeitY Delhi High Court case against WhatsApp and an Indian antitrust investigation.

Earlier this year, the country’s ministry reportedly raised similar concerns about the messaging service’s planned update. According to the article, in response to reprisals from various governments and users, WhatsApp held off enforcing the policy for three months, until May 15. TechCrunch reported that though users need to comply with the policy to access certain basic features of the messaging service, WhatsApp “somewhat relaxed the deadline” last week.

According to an article by Surabhi Agarwal of The Economic Times, the letter stated that “changes to the privacy policy and the manner of introducing these changes, including in frequently asked questions (FAQs), undermines the sacrosanct values of informational privacy, data security and user choice for Indian users, and harms the rights and interests of Indian citizens.” According to the news publisher, legal experts question why Indian users have not been offered the opportunity to opt-out of the policy’s proposed changes, an option offered to other users around the globe.

“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-à-vis users in Europe,” MeitY wrote in the letter.