"We reiterate that we have already responded to the Government of India and assured them that the privacy of users remains our highest priority. As a reminder, the recent update does not change the privacy of people's personal messages," a WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement. "We will not limit the functionality of how WhatsApp works in the coming weeks. Instead, we will continue to remind users from time to time about the update as well as when people choose to use relevant optional features, like communicating with a business that is receiving support from Facebook," the spokesperson said.
The Union government said that WhatsApp currently has access to personal, sensitive and business data of hundreds of millions of Indian users and has also acquired a role as an "essential digital service" during the COVID-19 pandemic.