Government of India requests WhatsApp to withdraw their privacy policy update

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After WhatsApp’s disastrous rollout of their new privacy policy, which caused many Indian’s to switch to the competition, the Indian Government’s Technology ministry has sent a letter to the WhatsApp, requesting them to withdraw the privacy policy update as it takes away the choice from Indian users.

2 weeks ago, WhatsApp announced a new update to its terms of service and privacy policy, detailing how they will be processing user data and how they will be integrating with their parent company, Facebook across their products. Users were originally required to accept these new updates or stop using the service by February 8th, 2021.

This move caused a huge backlash among their Indian user base; causing a significant amount of users to flock to the competing messaging apps such as Telegram and Signal, who saw their downloads peak in the millions in the days after.

Now, the Indian Government has sent a letter to WhatsApp, asking them to withdraw the privacy policy update as it essentially robs Indians of the choice of giving up their user data to Facebook if they wish to use WhatsApp.

The letter also noted, “This differential and discriminatory treatment of Indian and European users is attracting serious criticism and betrays a lack of respect for the rights and interest of Indian citizens who form a substantial portion of WhatsApp’s user base.”

The government has put forward 14 questions in the letter to WhatsApp, asking them about their data collection practices and various other privacy related issues. WhatsApp is yet to respond to them.

In response to the backlash, WhatsApp started a huge media campaign, detailing exactly what information they collect and how they do not have access to end-to-end encrypted messages. They even pushed the date to accept these policy changes to May 15th, 2021, however it looks like they are still losing users to their competition.

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