Government of India directs WhatsApp to withdraw new TOS and privacy policy

WhatsApp’s deadline for accepting their new Terms of Service (TOS) and Privacy Policy was 5 days ago on the May 15th. Now, the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has sent a letter to the Facebook-owned company to withdraw the update within 7 days, and failure to do so will prompt lawful measures.

This is the second time the Government of India has directed WhatsApp to roll back its privacy policy update. The first time was back in January, when WhatsApp first introduced the new policy and had to roll it back because of severe backlash from their Indian user base. The company then postponed the deadline to May 15th, 2021, a date which just passed.

According to the letter by MeitY, WhatsApp is being unfair to Indian users, forcing them to accept the new privacy policy while those in the EU are exempted from it. They said:

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 has given WhatsApp 7 days to come a satisfactory response, after which they will begin looking into lawful measures.

India is WhatApp’s largest user base, with over 450 million uses. According to a spokesperson from the company, most of the users who read the privacy policy update has already accepted it. For users who have not yet agreed to the update, WhatsApp will begin showing persistent notifications and then later start taking away basic functionality in the app, until they accept.