India once again asks WhatsApp to withdraw its new privacy policy

India once again asks WhatsApp to withdraw its new privacy policy

India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has sent yet another letter to WhatsApp, asking the company to withdraw its controversial privacy policy. The government body has given the messenger seven days to offer a “satisfactory” response, or it plans to take prompt legal measures against the service.

Soon after WhatsApp announced its new privacy policy earlier this year, the Indian government sent out a letter to WhatsApp head Will Cathcart. In the letter, the government pointed out that the changes raised “grave concerns” regarding the implication for choice and autonomy of Indian citizens and asked the messenger to withdraw the new policy. However, the government’s request fell on deaf ears, and WhatsApp only pushed the deadline from February 8 to May 15 after public backlash.

Now that the deadline has passed, WhatsApp has started limiting functionality for users who still haven’t accepted its new privacy policy. In response, the Indian IT Ministry has sent out another notice to the messaging service (via TechCrunch), which states that the privacy policy is in violation of several provisions of Indian laws and rules. The government has given WhatsApp seven days to come back with a satisfactory response or it plans to consider various options available to it under laws in India,” to deal with the matter.

The letter further adds that WhatsApp’s policy “undermines the sacrosanct values of informational privacy, data security and user choice for Indian users, and harms the rights and interests of Indian citizens.” Additionally, the ministry has also asked WhatsApp why it needs to enforce the new policy in India when those in the EU have been exempted from it. “It is not just problematic, but also irresponsible, for WhatsApp to leverage this position to impose unfair terms and conditions on Indian users, particularly those that discriminate against Indian users vis-à-vis users in Europe,” the letter adds.

The notice comes at a time when the Indian IT ministry is also pursuing legal action against WhatsApp in the Delhi High Court. Furthermore, the Competition Commission of India is conducting an antitrust probe on the matter. WhatsApp is yet to issue a response to the Indian government’s latest notice. We’ll update this post as soon as we have a statement from the company.

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Pranob Mehrotra
Pranob Mehrotra

A Literature and Linguistics graduate with a keen interest in everything Android. When not writing about tech, Pranob spends most of his time either playing League of Legends or lurking on Reddit.