Rescind new privacy policy: Centre pings WhatsApp

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WhatsApp, however, pushed the date late last week after huge backlash from users. Moreover, the ministry also has the leverage of asking for a Europe-like exemption from these policy changes.

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.

WhatsApp recently announced a new privacy policy to clarify how the company collects and uses data when a user messages a business.

WhatsApp's new privacy terms, which were unveiled earlier this month, reserve the right to share user data, including location and phone number, with its parent Facebook Inc and units such as Instagram and Messenger.

Though WhatsApp has yet to see mass uninstalls of its app in India, users concerned about privacy are increasingly downloading rival apps such as Signal and Telegram, research firms say, propelling them higher on the download charts and putting those apps ahead of their ubiquitous rival in India for the first time.

New Delhi also shared disappointment with the timing of this update, which to be fair WhatsApp unveiled past year.

India asks WhatsApp to withdraw new privacy policy, answer 14 questions
As a refresher, the new policy was announced a couple of weeks and it stated that certain data would be shared with Facebook. The ministry has sought details about exact categories of data that WhatsApp collects from Indian users.

It qualified the assertion by remarking that the updated Terms of Service and privacy policy raise "grave concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens".

The changes "enable WhatsApp, and other Facebook companies, to make invasive and precise inferences about users which may not be reasonably foreseen or expected by users in the ordinary course of assessing these services, the ministry said".

The plea has claimed that the new privacy policy of WhatsApp allows full access into a user's online activity without any government supervision. "Since the Personal Data Protection Bill strongly follows the principle of 'purpose limitation, ' these changes may lead to significant implementational challenges for WhatsApp should the Bill become an Act", the letter said.

"We wish to reinforce that this update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook".

This triggered an outcry regardless of WhatsApp's assertion that all private messages between friends and family members remain end-to-end encrypted.

"This "all-or-nothing" approach takes away any meaningful choice from Indian users".

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