WhatsApp has till 25th May to respond to the letter and the concerns which the government has raised. Failure to do so would result in the government taking necessary steps in consonance with law. As per the letter, the new policy that allows WhatsApp to share the business communication of users with Facebook is in “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 Indian government will consider various options available to it under laws in India”, the letter read.
Further, ths government said 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”.
A spokesperson for WhatsApp in India told TOI upon being contacted that the company continues to engage with the government on the matter. “… we reaffirm what we said before that this update does not impact the privacy of personal messages for anyone. Our goal is to provide information about new options we are building that people will have, to message a business on WhatsApp, in the future”.
The IT Ministry, in a new notice also objected to WhatsApp for giving a discriminatory treatment to Indian users as compared to the European users. “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”.
To recall, the Ministry back in January told WhatsApp it “betrayed a lack of respect for the rights and interests” of Indian users as the ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ obligation wasn’t applied on the users in Europe when compared to Indian users.
“Our goal is to provide information about new options we are building that people will have, to message a business on WhatsApp, in the future. While the majority of users who have received the new terms of service have accepted them, we appreciate some people haven’t had the chance to do so yet”, WhatsApp said in the statement.
“No accounts were deleted on May 15 because of this update and no one in India lost functionality of WhatsApp either. We will follow up with reminders to people over the next several weeks”.
There is no update if WhatsApp will scrap the new policy or if the necessary actions will be taken by the government against the chat app.