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Home / Business / Govt orders WhatsApp to withdraw its controversial new privacy policy

Govt orders WhatsApp to withdraw its controversial new privacy policy

The ministry of electronics and IT shot off a letter on May 18 on the issue, sources said and warned that necessary steps in accordance with law will be taken
Representational image.
Representational image.
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Our Special Correspondent   |   New Delhi   |   Published 20.05.21, 02:08 AM

The government has ordered WhatsApp to withdraw its controversial new privacy policy, saying the changes undermine the sacrosanct values of privacy, data security and harm rights and interests of Indian citizens.

The ministry of electronics and IT shot off a letter to WhatsApp on May 18 on the issue, sources said and warned that necessary steps in accordance with law will be taken if a satisfactory response was not received within seven days.

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The ministry has taken a strong position on the matter, and made it clear that it is not just problematic but also “irresponsible” for the messaging platform to leverage its position to impose “unfair” terms and conditions on Indian users, when many depend on WhatsApp to communicate in everyday life, according to the sources.

A WhatsApp spokesperson said the company continues to engage with the government. “Our goal is to provide information about new options we are building that people will have, to message a business on WhatsApp, in the future.”

“No accounts were deleted on May 15 because of this update and no one in India lost functionality of WhatsApp either.

“... we reaffirm what we said before that this update does not impact the privacy of personal messages for anyone... we’ll take every opportunity to explain how we protect people’s personal messages and private information,” the spokesperson added.

In fulfilment of its sovereign responsibility to protect the interests of Indian citizens, the government will consider various options available to it under the laws in India, the sources at the ministry said.

Raj Ramachandran, partner at J Sagar Associates, said: “It remains to be seen how the directive will be responded to within the prescribed timeline, given the diametrically opposite position being taken by both sides on the revised policy and its compliance with applicable laws.”

“The option apparently given to users in other jurisdictions to opt out of the revised policy will also need to be explained,” Ramachandran said.



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