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WhatsApp reiterates stand on data sharing clause, yet to respond to MeitY letter

WhatsApp reiterates stand on data sharing clause, yet to respond to MeitY letter
Photo Credit: Reuters
21 Jan, 2021

A day after the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) demanded a rollback of the new privacy-related policy update, messaging platform WhatsApp reiterated that it would not share personal user data with parent company Facebook. 

However, the company has not responded to the government letter yet.

In a statement to the media, the company said that its 400+ monthly active users in India will continue to be supported by the end-to-end encryption on the platform.

“We wish to reinforce that this update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook. Our aim is to provide transparency and new options available to engage with businesses so they can serve their customers and grow,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said in the statement. 

She added, “WhatsApp will always protect personal messages with end-to-end encryption so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see them. We are working to address misinformation and remain available to answer any questions.”

Read: The WhatsApp story so far 

On Thursday, Facebook executives, as per the Lok Sabha website, will field questions from a parliamentary panel on information technology over safeguarding citizens rights, prevention of misuse of social online news media platforms and women’s security in the digital space.

In a letter addressed to WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart, MeitY on Tuesday had sought details about the company’s data sharing protocols and business practices. The letter also asked the app to clarify why Indian users, unlike their European Union counterparts, were not given a choice to opt out of the privacy update.

It may be noted that the EU implemented the General Data Protection Regulation in 2018, which governs data protection and privacy for its users. In India, the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 continues to be under review by the parliamentary committee.

After WhatsApp introduced its updated privacy policy to users, competing apps such as Telegram and Signal have seen a spike in global downloads. WhatsApp also pushed the initial date of implementation from February 8 to May 15, citing “misinformation”around the new policy.