IT Ministry said policy should be withdrawn
The messaging company started rolling out the update in December, asking users to accept by February 8 or lose access to the service.
While the firm has clarified that messages and private conversations remain private and encrypted, concerns about privacy violations remain among users, many of whom are moving to other messaging apps like Signal and Telegram. It has also deferred introducing the policy from February 8 to May 15 after facing a backlash. Calling out the company’s “all-or-nothing” approach, taking away any meaningful choice from Indian users, the ministry outlined several concerns regarding the proposed policy update.
It added that “the proposed changes raise grave concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens. Therefore, you are called upon to withdraw the proposed changes. Further, you are urged to reconsider your approach to respect the informational privacy, freedom of choice, and data security of Indian citizens”.
A new policy was to be implemented from 8 February
“We wish to reinforce that this update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook. Our aim is to provide transparency and new options available to engage with businesses so they can serve their customers and grow. WhatsApp will always protect personal messages with end-to-end encryption so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see them. We are working to address misinformation and remain available to answer any questions,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.