Update (19/05/2021 8.30 PM IST): In a statement, WhatsApp said, “We continue to engage with the government and 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.”
MEITY has given WhatsApp seven days to respond to this notice with a deadline of 25 May. It added that if the response from the Facebook-owned company is not satisfactory, the government can take lawful actions against the social networking giant. This is METIY’s second letter to WhatsApp after it made similar demands in January.
One of the government’s prime arguments is that Indian users are treated with biased as compared to European users who have a choice to opt-out. However, India currently doesn’t have a GDPR-like data protection law.
Taking up the issue of discriminatory treatment to Indian users vis-à-vis users in Europe, the Ministry stated, “As you're doubtlessly aware, many Indian citizens depend on WhatsApp to communicate in everyday life. It is not just problematic, but also irresponsible…Govt sources
— ANI (@ANI) May 19, 2021
After Germany banned the new WhatsApp policy rollout last week, MEITY said that it’s proactively looking for different solutions and actions to preserve Indian users’ privacy.
India is WhatsApp’s biggest market in the world with more than 450 million monthly active users, and the app will probably do everything in its power from getting blocked.
We’ve asked WhatsApp for a response, and we’ll update the story if we hear back.