Government asks WhatsApp to withdraw controversial privacy update for Indian users: Sources


2021-01-19 08:35:53

NEW DELHI: In major trouble for WhatsApp in India, the government has asked the company to withdraw its controversial privacy update and respect the “informational privacy and data security of Indian users,” as per sources.
The government has sent a long list of questions to the company on the issue and has said that having a lenient update for Europe while being stringent in India is discriminatory for Indian users.
Sources told TOI that the government has expressed displeasure at the way the matter has been unveiled by the Facebook-owned company and has asked it to take immediate steps to sort out the matter.
A letter has been sent in this regard to WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart, where the government is understood to have expressed strong concerns about the latest terms of service and privacy policy proposed by the company for Indian users.
The letter says that the update and data-sharing with Facebook will expose Indian users to “greater security risks and vulnerabilities creating a honeypot of information”, as per the sources.
The government is also against the “all-or-nothing approach” of WhatsApp where it has asked the users to either accept the terms or be ready to log out of full bouquet of services. The ‘all-or-nothing’ approach takes away any meaningful choice from Indian users, the government is believed to have said in its communication.
The government is concerned about the “differential treatment” that WhatsApp has followed for Indian users whose update conditions are different to users in Europe where privacy rules are seen lenient.
The sources said that “differential and discriminatory treatment of Indian and European users is attracting serious criticism and shows lack of respect for the rights and interests of Indian citizens”.
“Such a differential treatment is prejudicial to the interests of Indian users and is viewed with serious concern by the Government,” a source said.



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