India is WhatsApp’s largest user base, with over 400 million users.
India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has asked WhatsApp to withdraw its new privacy policy,
It also said the Facebook-owned messaging platform’s proposed changes “make invasive and precise inferences about users”.
WhatsApp been to clarify issues related to its “privacy and data transfer and sharing policies, and general business practices” within seven days.
In an email addressed to WhatsApp’s global head Will Cathcart on Monday, the ministry said the proposed policy changes “will have a disproportionate impact on the Indian citizens.”
It asked WhatsApp to answer 14 questions related to the proposed update.
After facing backlash, It Should be noted after drastic migration of its users to Signal and Telegaram WhatsApp deferred introducing the policy from February 8 to May 15 2021
However WhatsApp maintained through massive advertisements in India print media saying the update does not change data sharing with Facebook with regard to personal conversations or other profile information.
WhatsApp said the policy changes only address business chats in the event a user converses with a company’s customer service platform through WhatsApp.
The ministry has sought details of WhatsApp’s services in India, details of permissions and consent required by different versions of the app (WhatsApp has personal and business versions),
what is the nature of profiling of Indian citizens through WhatsApp, if they profile them, on which server is the data of Indian users transmitted and hosted, and whether there is a difference in the company’s privacy policy in India and other countries.
In a strongly worded letter to WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said India is home to the largest user base of WhatsApp globally and is one the biggest markets for its services.
The proposed changes to the WhatsApp Terms of Service and Privacy Policy “raise grave concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens,” it wrote.
Stating that Indians should be properly respected, it said, “any unilateral changes to the WhatsApp Terms of Service and Privacy would not be fair and acceptable.”