A 3D printed Whatsapp logo and a padlock are placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration picture taken May 4, 2021. (REUTERS)
A 3D printed Whatsapp logo and a padlock are placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration picture taken May 4, 2021. (REUTERS)

WhatsApp won’t limit users’ access

The company told media it had responded to the government’s letter, received on 18 May, asking for the controversial new policy to be withdrawn.
By Prasid Banerjee, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAY 25, 2021 12:58 AM IST

Facebook-owned social messaging platform WhatsApp will not limit the functionality of users who haven’t accepted its new privacy policy, it said on Monday.

The company told media it had responded to the government’s letter, received on 18 May, asking for the controversial new policy to be withdrawn. However, it said it will continue reminding users about the policy “at least” till India’s upcoming Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill comes into effect.

“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 about the update as well as when people choose to use relevant optional features, such as communicating with a business that is receiving support from Facebook,” the statement 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,” it added.

The world’s largest messaging platform had started enforcing its new policy from May 15, despite concerns from users and the government, and a court case against it. WhatsApp has claimed on multiple occasions, including on Monday, that the policy does not change privacy of people’s personal messages. It had deferred the update from February 8 to May 15 after users raised concerns.

It also said it would not delete accounts, but would, after May 15, limit functionality for users who did not accept the policy.

The Centre had given WhatsApp seven days to respond to its letter, alleging that it was in violation of Indian laws. WhatsApp had then said the majority of its users had accepted the policy.

“While the majority of users who have received the new terms of service have accepted them, we appreciate some people haven’t had the chance to do so yet. No accounts were deleted on 15 May because of this update and no one in India lost functionality of WhatsApp either. We will follow up with reminders,” it said on May 19.

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