WhatsApp responds to India govt - But it's still vague

After the Indian government talked tough to WhatsApp and told its unilateral changes (to privacy policy) were 'unacceptable', the social messaging platform has responded in generalist, even vague, terms that reiterate what it has been saying all along.  

"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 told the newspaper The Mint.

As it happens, this is not all that different from the clarification that WhatsApp offered in the aftermath of the furore to its original announcement of privacy policy change.

"WhatsApp will protect personal messages"

Considering that much of the outrage is centred around personal messages, WhatsApp also sought to address that point.

"WhatsApp will always protect personal messages with end-to-end encryption so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see them," the spokesperson was further quoted as saying. 

WhatsApp also said that it was working to address misinformation and remains available to answer any questions.

But despite the clarifications, the public mood still remains aggressive.

The public outcry is more due to the fact that WhatsApp has not left users with a choice. Either you agree with the terms and conditions or you quit. Simple. And secondly, these new policies are in stark contrast with the basic idea of WhatsApp when it started.

WhatsApp may climb down

The Indian government was also particularly cut up with this aspect.  

In  its letter to WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) had said the proposed changes in WhatsApp's Privacy Policy Terms, without giving users an option to opt out, "raise grave concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens".

The Indian government also suggested that Indian users are being subjected to differential treatment when compared to their European counterparts where the changes do not apply.

"By not providing Indian users with the ability to opt-out of this data sharing with other Facebook companies, WhatsApp is treating users with an 'all-or-nothing' approach," the government said.

The Indian government also suggested that Indian users are being subjected to differential treatment when compared to their European counterparts where the changes do not apply.

The government has asked WhatsApp to answer 14 questions related to the proposed update within seven days.

WhatsApp is expected to formally respond to the government queries separately. 

The belief is that WhatsApp will climb down from its position and put off its May 15 deadline for the privacy policy tweak, sources said.

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