“They will wait for the Personal Data Protection Bill to be passed. Till then, WhatsApp will send reminders to accept the new policy and not disable any feature,” a senior government official told ET. The Bill which is currently with the Joint Parliamentary Committee is likely to be tabled in the Parliament later this year.
Last week, the government directed the Facebook-owned company to withdraw its policy, saying it was harmful to the “interests of Indian citizens”. The ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY), had given the company seven days to respond to its letter on May 18.
The official also said that the company in its response to the government two days ago said that it will comply with the provisions of the PDP bill whenever it comes into effect. According to experts, the Bill contains provisions relating to purpose limitation of data collection which may make the latest Whatsapp policy unviable in India.
Another senior official told that though the matter is subjudice in the Court, the government is trying to exert pressure on the company to not force the policy on Indian users. “We have taken the same stance in the Court,” he said.
“We have responded to the Government of India’s letter and assured them that the privacy of users remains our highest priority. As a reminder, the recent update does not change the privacy of people’s personal messages. Its purpose is to provide additional information about how people can interact with businesses if they choose to do so,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement.
“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,” the spokesperson 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,” the spokesperson added.
With over 400 million users, India has the biggest user base for WhatsApp globally. PTI