WhatsApp stands firm on privacy policy, says won’t limit functionality

WhatsApp stands firm on privacy policy, says won’t limit functionality
Photo Credit: Reuters
25 May, 2021

Responding to technology ministry’s directive to roll back privacy policy update, Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp on Monday said it will not change the functionality of how the platform works. 

In a notice to WhatsApp on May 18, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had said that the latest privacy policy update by the app violated the Information Technology Act 2011. Per the notice, the platform had time until Tuesday, May 25 to roll back the policy update.   

“We will not limit the functionality of how WhatsApp works in the coming weeks. Instead, we will continue to remind users from time to time about the update as well as when people choose to use relevant optional features, like communicating with a business that is receiving support from Facebook,” WhatsApp said in a statement. 

WhatsApp said the recent update does not change the privacy of people’s personal messages. Rather, the update will offer additional information about how people can interact with businesses if they choose to do so, it said. 

“We hope this approach reinforces the choice that all users have whether or not they want to interact with a business. We will maintain this approach until at least the forthcoming PDP law comes into effect,” a company spokesperson said. 

The chat app, in its privacy policy update, had said that all communication between individual users and businesses over WhatsApp will be shared with third party entities and other Facebook group companies for personalisation of marketing services. The policy, initially slated for a February 8 roll-out, was pushed to May 15 in the face of criticism from users, digital rights bodies and the government itself. 

For WhatsApp the India market is key with a monthly active user base nearing 500 million. The company also received a clearance to roll out its UPI-based payment product, WhatsApp Pay last year, which is expected to be key to the company’s monetisation goals in India.