“The proposed changes raise serious concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens”, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology wrote in an email to WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart on January 18. “Therefore, you are called upon to withdraw the proposed changes,” the ministry wrote in the letter seen by Reuters.
WhatsApp said in a statement that it was working to tackle the misinformation and remains available to answer any questions. “We would like to point out that this update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook, “he said. Based in California Facebook invested $ 5.7 billion last year in Indian conglomerate Reliance’s digital unit, with a huge chunk of that aiming to attract tens of millions of traditional store owners to use digital payments via WhatsApp.
With 400 million users in India, WhatsApp has big plans for the growing digital payments space in the country, including selling health insurance through partners. These aspirations could take a hit if Indians switch to rival messengers like Signal and Telegram, whose downloads spiked after WhatsApp said on Jan.4 that it could share limited user data with Facebook and its group companies.
It is “great concern” that Indian users have not been given the option to opt out of this data sharing with Facebook companies and are given less choice than European app users, says the letter from the ministry of technology. “This differential and discriminatory treatment of Indian and European users is causing serious criticism and betrays a lack of respect for the rights and interests of Indian citizens who make up a substantial part of WhatsApp’s user base,” he said.
The ministry asked WhatsApp to answer 14 questions, including the categories of user data it collected, whether it profiled customers based on cross-border data usage and flows. The company said last week that it will delay the launch of the new policy in May from February, after facing criticism from users in India and elsewhere to the new terms.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)
- The question creates a new headache for WhatsApp and its US parent Facebook, who have wagered heavily on the South Asian nation to expand their payments and other businesses. “The proposed changes raise serious concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens”, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology wrote in an email to WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart dated Jan 18.