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Government Of India Examining WhatsApp's User Policy Changes Amid Raging Privacy Debate

Amid the debate over Whatsapp's new privacy policy and terms of use, the Centre is examining and evaluating the recent changes announced by Facebook-owned app.

WhatsApp

Amid the debate over WhatsApp's new privacy policy and terms of use, the Centre is examining and evaluating the recent changes announced by the Facebook-owned messenger app, PTI sources said. Internal discussions are on within the IT Ministry over the implications of the recent move by WhatsApp, they said.

WhatsApp policy update would be evaluated: Sources

"The issue needs to be looked at, in detail, given that concerns have been raised by a large section of users including some top business leaders," they added. WhatsApp, which has over 400 million users in India, counts the country among its biggest markets globally.

The PTI report further said that WhatsApp's policy update would also be evaluated in the context of the current legal framework. While the IT Ministry has not yet approached WhatsApp seeking an explanation on the matter, a decision on the same is likely to be taken soon.

The development comes amid a raging debate over WhatsApp's controversial update in its terms of service and privacy policy around how it processes user data and partners with Facebook to offer integrations across the social media giant's products. WhatsApp had informed users about these changes through an in-app notification, last week. It said that users will have to agree to the new terms and policy by February 8, in order to continue using the platform.

This led to a user backlash and many users have also started shifting to rival platforms like Telegram and Signal, and these platforms have seen millions of downloads globally in the immediate aftermath of the event.

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WhatsApp's clarification on privacy policy

Amid the public outrage, WhatsApp, on its part, has sought to assuage users' concerns saying its latest policy update does not affect the privacy of messages on the platform. In a blog post earlier this week, WhatsApp emphasised that it does not share users' contact lists or data of groups with Facebook for advertisement purposes.

"We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data," WhatsApp said. 

Meanwhile, a report by internet security researcher Rajshekhar Rajaharia has claimed that at least 1,700 private WhatsApp group links were visible on Google through a web search. Meanwhile, a number of business leaders including Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra, Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma and PhonePe CEO Sameer Nigam have spoken of moving to rival platforms.

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