Government writes to WhatsApp Head Will Cathcart to revoke it’s new privacy policy in India

The Government has written to WhatsApp Head Will Cathcart asking him to “respect the privacy and data security of Indian users” and revoke India’s new terms and privacy policies suggested by the User Messaging Service. In a letter, it expressed deep concern about the political days following HT’s declaration on 11 January that the government was closely reviewing the issue.

WhatsApp revised its privacy policy on January 4 to exchange user data with its parent company Facebook and other community companies. The data contains the location and phone number. The move caused a worldwide backlash and led to an increase in downloading alternative messaging applications such as Signal and Telegram. India is WhatsApp’s main market with 400 million users.

The Government sent a questionnaire to WhatsApp requesting more information on its data-sharing protocols and market activities. It requested the exact types of data that the application collects from Indian users, the specifics of the permissions and the user consent obtained, and their relevance concerning the working and relevant service offered.

The Government also sought specifics of the disparity between WhatsApp’s privacy policy in India and other nations and details of its data security, information security, cybersecurity, privacy, and encryption policies.

HT contacted WhatsApp for a comment but did not receive one immediately. WhatsApp maintained that privacy policy change “does not affect the privacy of your messages with your friends and family in any way whatsoever” and was only linked to company communications. It has been confirmed that the organization would not have access to communications, calls, or call logs.

The government has highlighted that the new strategy would contribute to gathering “a vast amount of highly invasive and granular metadata.”

The letter noted that “data integration between WhatsApp and other Facebook companies” prevents the consumer from the possibility of opting out of the policy.

The government has “raised strong objections against the differential treatment by WhatsApp to its users in India and the European Union”. It added this had triggered serious criticism and “shows a lack of respect for the rights and interests of Indian citizens, who form one of the largest user bases for WhatsApp”.

On January 21, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology called on Facebook officials to raise their privacy questions about WhatsApp.