WhatsApp Privacy Policy: All You Need To Know

The Indian government and WhatsApp are in dispute about the latter’s new privacy policy. The Indian Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY) has sent a letter to WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart. In the reportedly strongly-worded letter, the MeitY has asked WhatsApp to withdraw its latest privacy policy updates.

WhatsApp has issued clarifications about its privacy policy updates through newspaper ads, podcasts, and even dedicated WhatsApp statuses. But such was the hype around the policy that one of the messenger’s competitors, Signal, has seen a huge boost in users migrating from WhatsApp.

Indian Government And WhatsApp Privacy Policy

The government of India has asked WhatsApp to roll back the privacy policy updates. The MeiTY letter to WhatsApp CEO says that “grave concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens… Therefore, you are called upon to withdraw the proposed changes.”

One of the concerns raised by the Indian government is that the policy updates don’t offer you a choice. If you’ve seen WhatsApp’s in-app pop-up for the privacy policy update, there’s only the ‘Agree’ button, with no real choice for you to continue using the app or opt-out of the recent update.

In its letter, the MeitY said “a differential treatment is prejudicial to the interests of Indian users and is viewed with serious concern by the government.” This statement is made because WhatsApp is applying a different privacy policy to the European Union, pertaining to the strict data protection laws.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Law & Justice, Communications, Electronics & Information Technology Minister of India, released a video message on the issue. The minister is asking WhatsApp to maintain the “sanctity of personal communication.”

The minister refers to the privacy needed for a conversation between a doctor and patient, or a lawyer and client. If WhatsApp can read such chats, it may be a violation of the sanctity of that conversation.

India And the Personal Data Protection Bill

Privacy laws are steadily catching up with big tech policies as India is also finalizing a new Personal Data Protection Bill. Once that comes into action, it’ll work as a framework to protect your personal data.

It’s a much-needed bill for the country that is doubling up on smartphone and internet users annually, without a modern framework to protect the user data. There’s also word that the Indian government is looking to get clarifications about the data-sharing practices between Facebook and WhatsApp.

The letter also criticizes WhatsApp for the ill-timed introduction of the privacy policy. It is so because the update interferes with the implementation of the Personal Data Protection Bill.

What Will Happen To WhatsApp Privacy Policy Update?

That’s the big question making rounds as the government asks WhatsApp to take back the updated policy. While the messenger had already delayed the rollout, for now, it might have to take out a different policy for India.

That said, we can expect either more clarification or a new privacy policy with more options in the coming future. It is safe to say that the latest privacy policy has caused much damage and trolling to WhatsApp. So it’s probably for the best if the company takes a different approach for now.

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