After a German regulator issued an injunction to prevent Facebook from processing WhatsApp data in the country for the next three months, the Indian government is calling for Facebook to withdraw the new terms of service completely.
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The Indian government directed WhatsApp to remove the planned update via a letter on Tuesday that TechCrunch saw.
“In fulfillment of its sovereign responsibility to protect the rights and interests of Indian citizens, the government of India will consider various options available to it under laws in India,” the letter from India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) reads.
India is Facebook’s largest WhatsApp market with over 450 million users. The ministry has given Facebook seven days to offer a “satisfactory” response.
This isn’t the first time the Indian government is taking action against the new WhatsApp privacy change. The country is pursuing a legal case in the Delhi High Court and conducting an antitrust probe. Previously, the government expressed “grave concerns” over the planned update.
The ministry has asked Facebook why it needs to enforce the new changes in India, when European Union users are exempt. “It is not just problematic, but also irresponsible, for WhatsApp to leverage this position to impose unfair terms and conditions on Indian users, particularly those that discriminate against Indian users vis-à-vis users in Europe,” the ministry wrote.
Personal data shared with Facebook includes WhatsApp phone numbers and location, the TechCrunch report notes. A different report said that Facebook’s WhatsApp policy change is a key development for Facebook, which wants to turn WhatsApp into a one-stop-shop that would serve different purposes on top of instant messaging and calls. Facebook reportedly wants WhatsApp to become a WeChat equivalent that can offer users access to commerce features and entertainment. WeChat is the most important chat app in China, handling all sorts of aspects of one’s digital life.
WhatsApp is Facebook’s most expensive purchase to date. Facebook paid nearly $20 billion for the chat app several years ago, and it’s yet to recoup its initial investment.
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