Union IT Ministry asks WhatsApp to withdraw its new privacy policy

The ministry has drawn the attention of WhatsApp as to how its new Privacy Policy is a violation of several provisions of the existing Indian laws and rules
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The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has once again directed WhatsApp to withdraw its new Privacy Policy. WhatsApp had earlier claimed that it officially deferred its new Privacy Policy beyond 15th May, 2021.

However, the Ministry in a communication, stated that deferral of the privacy policy beyond 15th May 2021 does not absolve WhatsApp from respecting the values of informational privacy, data security and user choice for Indian users.

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In a communication sent to WhatsApp on 18th May, 2021, the Ministry has once again told WhatsApp to withdraw its Privacy Policy 2021 as the changes to the Privacy Policy and the manner of introducing these changes, including in FAQ, undermines the sacrosanct values of informational privacy, data security and user choice for Indian users, and harms the rights and interests of Indian citizens.

The Ministry has also taken the same stand in the Delhi High Court, where this matter is sub-judice.

Taking up the issue of discriminatory treatment to Indian users vis-à-vis users in Europe, the Ministry has further stated that, “As you are doubtlessly aware, many Indian citizens depend on WhatsApp to communicate in everyday life. 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 ministry in its communication has drawn the attention of WhatsApp as to how its new Privacy Policy is a violation of several provisions of the existing Indian laws and rules. In fulfilment of its sovereign responsibility to protect the rights and interests of Indian citizens, the Government of India will consider various options available to it under laws in India.

The government has given seven days time to WhatsApp to respond to its notice, and if no satisfactory response is received, necessary steps in consonance with law will be taken, the communication noted.

Edited by Anju Narayanan

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