The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) on Wednesday wrote to WhatsApp, asking the social media giant to take back its new rivacy policy. The Union government gave the company seven days — upto May 25 — to respond, and has said it will take necessary steps if it does not receive a response. In its letter, Meity called WhatsApp’s move to leverage its position to impose its terms and conditions in the Indian market “irresponsible”. The policy came into effect on May 15, and while earlier WhatsApp said users will not be able to use the app if they don’t accept the terms and conditions, it later did not bar users who did not accept the terms but severely restricted functionality.
In its letter, the Ministry reportedly said that the deferral of the policy beyond May 15 does not absolve WhatsApp “from respecting the values of informational privacy, data security and user choice for Indian users.” According to ANI, the Union government said that Indian users are discriminated against vis-à-vis users in Europe.
WhatsApp has said that all messages are encrypted end-to-end, which means that neither WhatsApp, nor a third party can read them. The policy had also said that it ‘must’ receive and collect some information to “operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our services, including when you install, access, or use our services.” WhatsApp said that if you use WhatsApp Pay, additional information, including payment account and transaction information is processed by the company.
The bench issued notice to the Union government, Facebook and WhatsApp and sought their stand on one of the pleas by a lawyer who has claimed that the new policy violates users' right to privacy under the Constitution.
The Union government also said it has written to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the issue and a reply is awaited and therefore, there was a need to maintain status quo with regard to implementation of the policy.
With inputs from PTI