India’s know-how ministry has requested WhatsApp to withdraw modifications to its privateness coverage the messaging platform introduced earlier this month, saying the brand new phrases take away selection from Indian customers.
The demand creates a brand new headache for WhatsApp and its US mum or dad Fb, which have positioned massive bets on the South Asian nation to increase their funds and different companies.
“The proposed changes raise grave concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens,” the Ministry of Electronics and Data Know-how wrote in an electronic mail to WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart dated January 18.
“Therefore, you are called upon to withdraw the proposed changes,” the ministry wrote within the letter seen by Reuters.
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WhatsApp stated in a press release it was working to handle misinformation and stays accessible to reply any questions. “We wish to reinforce that this update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook,” it stated.
California-based Fb invested $5.7 billion final yr within the digital unit of the Indian conglomerate Reliance with an enormous a part of that geared toward drawing in tens of tens of millions of conventional store house owners to make use of digital funds by way of WhatsApp.
With 400 million customers in India, WhatsApp has massive plans for the nation’s rising digital funds area, together with promoting medical insurance by way of companions.
These aspirations may take successful if Indians swap to rival messengers reminiscent of Sign and Telegram, downloads of which have surged after WhatsApp stated on January 4 it may share restricted consumer knowledge with Fb and its group corporations.
It’s of “great concern” that Indian customers haven’t been given the selection to choose out of this knowledge sharing with Fb corporations and they’re being given much less selection in comparison with the app’s European customers, the tech ministry letter stated.
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“This differential and discriminatory treatment of Indian and European users is attracting serious criticism and betrays a lack of respect for the rights and interest of Indian citizens who form a substantial portion of WhatsApp’s user base,” it stated.
The ministry requested WhatsApp to reply to 14 questions together with the classes of consumer knowledge is collected, whether or not it profiled prospects primarily based on utilization and cross-border knowledge flows.
The corporate stated final week it could delay the brand new coverage launch to Could from February, after dealing with criticism from customers in India and elsewhere to the brand new phrases.
WhatsApp has launched a media promoting marketing campaign in India to calm nervous customers. The replace to the privateness coverage has additionally resulted in two authorized petitions in Indian courts.