The Center writes to the CEO of WhatsApp to withdraw the proposed changes to the privacy policy

Government of India, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) wrote to Will Cathcart, WhatsApp’s global CEO to withdraw proposed changes to the privacy policy of the Facebook-owned messaging application for Indian users. The CEO was asked to provide answers to the government’s question regarding privacy, data transfer and sharing policies, sources said today.

The Ministry has raised concerns about the security of user information as the new WhatsApp policy proposes to share the metadata of users’ chats with Business accounts with others Facebook companies. It would create a user information honeypot with Facebook group that can create security risks and vulnerabilities for users. MEITY has also opposed the “all or nothing” approach of WhatsApp which forces users to accept the new terms of service and privacy policies, without giving users the possibility to opt out of this proposed modification of the data integration with others Facebook companies.

Here the government reminded WhatsApp of the principles of privacy and consent established by the Supreme Court in the Puttaswamy vs Union of India ruling (2017). The ministry also asked WhatsApp why they made such significant changes when the Indian Parliament is already considering the law on personal data protection.

This bill, which is at a preliminary stage for consideration by the Mixed Commission of both Houses of Parliament, strongly follows the principle of “purpose limitation” with regards to data processing. Purpose limitation simply means that companies may only use user data for that specific purpose for which it has obtained users’ consent. This extensive integration of Indian user data with others Facebook companies would make it difficult for WhatsApp to follow this principle if this bill soon became a law. The ministry also challenged the different privacy policies for the European Union and India.

As India has the largest user base for WhatsApp in the world, this discriminatory treatment of Indian users shows WhatsApp’s lack of respect for the interests of Indian citizens. In this context, the government reminds WhatsApp that it has the sovereign right to protect the interests of Indian citizens and will not have to compromise on this at any cost. The government also sent a list of 14 questions to WhatsApp seeking answers on various privacy and data security issues.

The key questions are: * Disclose the exact categories of data that the WhatsApp application collects from Indian users.

* Provide the details of the permissions and user consent required by the WhatsApp app and the usefulness of each of them with respect to the specific operation and service provided. * WhatsApp does the profiling of Indian users based on their use of the application? What nature of profiling is conducted?

* Details of the difference between WhatsApp privacy policies in other countries and in India. * Details on data security policy, information security policy, cyber security policy, privacy policy and encryption policy.

* Does the WhatsApp app share data with other apps or business units of the same company or associated company? Share data flow details between these apps, business units or associated companies. * Does the WhatsApp app capture information about other apps running on the user’s mobile device? If so, what information does the app collect and for what purpose is it collected and used?

* Server details when Indian user data is transmitted or hosted. * Did the company or application provide third party access to access a user’s personal data? If so, please share these details. (ANI)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

News Highlights:

  • Government of India, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) wrote to Will Cathcart, WhatsApp’s global CEO to withdraw proposed changes to the privacy policy of the Facebook-owned messaging application for Indian users.
  • The Center writes to the CEO of WhatsApp to withdraw the proposed changes to the privacy policy