Centre writes to WhatsApp CEO, demands withdrawal of changes to privacy policy

India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in a letter to WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart has expressed its "strong concerns" on the new privacy changes and asked the app to "respect the date security of Indian users".

In a strongly worded letter to CEO Will Cathcart, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said India is home to the largest user base of WhatsApp globally and is one the biggest markets for its services.

The IT Ministry further wrote that the proposed changes to the WhatsApp Terms of Service and Privacy Policy "raise grave concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens." The ministry asked WhatsApp to withdraw the proposed changes and reconsider its approach to information privacy, freedom of choice and data security.

The policy that was announced earlier this month asked to agree to the new terms or lose access to accounts by February 8. To this, the IT Ministry in the letter has asked WhatsApp to withdraw the proposed policy, slamming its "all or nothing" approach which "leverages the social significance of the app to force users into a bargain".

Here is the list of 14 questions sent by the Government to WhatsApp seeking response on various privacy and data security concerns :

* Disclose the exact categories of data that WhatsApp application collects from Indian users.

* Give details of the permissions and user consent sought by WhatsApp app and utility of each of these with respect to the functioning and specific service provided.

* Does WhatsApp conduct profiling of Indian users on the basis of their usage of application? What nature of profiling is conducted?

* Details of difference between WhatsApp privacy policies in other countries and India.

* Details of Data Security Policy, Information Security Policy, Cyber Security Policy, Privacy Policy and Encryption Policy.

* Does the WhatsApp app share data with any other app or business unit of the same company or associated companies? Share details of the data flow among these apps, business units or associated companies.

* Does the WhatsApp app capture the information about the other apps running on the mobile device of the user? If yes, what information is being captured by the app and what purpose is it being collected and used?

* Details about the server when data of Indian users is transmitted or hosted.

* Has the company or application provided any access to a third party to access a user’s personal data? If yes, then share those details.



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