Information TechnologyIntermediary Liability

Government instructs WhatsApp to retract new privacy policy within 7 days

In its email to WhatsApp, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has urged the company not to implement its new privacy policy. The email has also asked WhatsApp to respond within 7 days. WhatsApp’s new privacy policy will not only enable it to share user data with Facebook’s parent company, but it will also enable them to email content to the applicationsThe email was forwarded to Will Cathcart, WhatsApp CEO.

“Changing the WhatsApp privacy policy, including the way these changes are introduced in FAQs, threatens Indian users’ sacrosanct values of privacy, data security, and usage choice,” multiple sources told The Economic Times.

Repercussions to follow

The report further quoted sources to state that if no satisfactory answer is received, the necessary steps will be taken in line with the law.

The government had earlier, in January, asked WhatsApp to withdraw changes to the privacy policy. It has maintained in its second letter that the new WhatsApp privacy policy is discriminatory as European users of the app are able to opt out of the policy, but Indian users do not have any such option. WhatsApp has said that while the accounts which do not accept the privacy policy will not be immediately deleted, it is slowly starting to restrict accessibility. 

WhatsApp delayed its striking privacy policy from February to May, involving the sharing of far more information with its parent company Facebook. However, the Ministry has stated that WhatsApp will not be exempted from compliance with ‘informational data protection, data security and user choice values of Indian users.’

Legal Challenges

On Monday, the Central Government told the Delhi High Court that the updated privacy policy of WhatsApp is in violation of IT laws and rules in India. The Delhi High Court recently rejected WhatsApp’s challenge to the Competition Commission of India investigation. In 2016 WhatsApp had made a major update to its Data Protection Policy. The Supreme Court is hearing a PIL that challenges the policy. The Supreme Court is also hearing the legal challenge to the new privacy policy by the Internet Freedom Foundation and the High Court of Delhi is hearing two other petitions.

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Shuvangi Das

Shuvangi is an law undergraduate at Xavier Law School, XIM- Bhubaneswar. She is a woman who is vocal and stands ground for the things she believes in. She keeps a keen interest in criminal law, social issues, and public policy. The dynamic nuances of technology have always driven her to know more of it.

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