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Govt urges Delhi HC to restrain WhatsApp from implementing its new ‘privacy policy’

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: The ruling central government reportedly urged Delhi High Court to restrain the messaging giant, WhatsApp, from implementing its contentious privacy policy and terms of service.

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The Centre was also reported to have asked Facebook-owned messaging platform to review its new proposed privacy policy changes, Minister of State for IT and Communications Sanjay Dhotre informed the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

The new privacy policy has been controversial since it allows WhatsApp to share its users private messages with its parent company Facebook. However, messages between individuals on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted, hence, only their recipients can see their contents. Whereas, under the new privacy policy messages sent to businesses may be stored on Facebook servers and whose data may be used for advertising. Meanwhile, WhatsApp has reportedly shared some personal information, like phone numbers, with Facebook since 2016.

In a reply to Lok Sabha, Dhotre stated, “Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) took cognizance of the WhatsApp announcement of its new Privacy Policy stated to be applicable to Indian users. To safeguard the interest of Indian users, Meity has asked WhatsApp to review the proposed privacy policy changes and also to explain the rationale of the same.”

The chat service came under heavy backlash last month when it warned folks they had until February 8 to agree to planned changes, which deal primarily with businesses using WhatsApp to send and store consumer texts. Poor communication regarding exactly what the update entails prompted outcry about how much personal data is shared with parent company Facebook.

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In response to the controversy, the messaging giant announced to delay the introduction of the new privacy policy from February 8 to May 15 to provide more time for users to read up about the new policy and accordingly accept or reject the new policy.

Despite the delay, users still have to accept the new privacy policy or ultimately stop using the instant messaging application.

Meanwhile, the chatting platform has reassured that it is building new ways to chat or shop with a business on WhatsApp that are entirely optional. Personal messages will remain end-to-end encrypted, so WhatsApp can’t read or listen to them.

The application uses the Status feature to share their values and updates directly within WhatsApp.

Furthermore, WhatsApp says that it won’t delete any accounts that haven’t accepted the new terms on May 15th, however, it cautions that it generally deletes accounts after they’re inactive for 120 days.

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