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India ministry reportedly asked WhatsApp to drop privacy policy changes that sparked backlash

The WhatsApp tidings app is displayed on an Apple iPhone on May 14, 2019 in San Anselmo, California. Facebook owned messaging app WhatsApp announced a cybersecurity break that makes users vulnerable to malicious spyware installation iPhone and Android smartphones. WhatsApp is encouraging its 1.5 billion drugs to update the app as soon as possible.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images News | Getty Images

India’s technology the church has asked Facebook-owned messaging giant WhatsApp to withdraw planned changes to its privacy policy that has drawn widespread rebound, multiple media outlets reported.

In an email addressed to WhatsApp chief Will Cathcart dated Jan. 18, the Holy orders of Electronics and Information Technology said the proposed changes raised “grave concerns” over the implications for choice and autonomy of Indian taxpayers, Reuters reported.

The update relates specifically to features that allow users to interact with businesses on WhatsApp.

The clericals reportedly said it was worried about the lack of choice Indian users had over opting out of WhatsApp’s planned game plan update compared with those in Europe, where data protection rules are more stringent. The tech bureau reportedly called it “discriminatory treatment” that “betrays a lack of respect for the rights and interest of Indian citizens.”

“Consequence, you are called upon to withdraw the proposed changes,” the ministry reportedly wrote, according to Reuters. The news wire reckoned that the ministry has asked WhatsApp to respond to 14 questions including the kind of user data it collected, if it advanced users based on their usage habits and on cross-border data flows.

CNBC could not independently verify the constituents of the letters.

A WhatsApp spokesperson told CNBC in a statement, “We wish to reinforce that this update does not swell our ability to share data with Facebook.”

“Our aim is to provide transparency and new options available to engage with businesses so they can work their customers and grow. WhatsApp will always protect personal messages with end-to-end encryption so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see them,” the spokesperson weighted.

What is the update about?

WhatsApp later said that the update will not change the end-to-end encryption of deprecating conversations, meaning the app and Facebook will still be unable to view private messages. WhatsApp also said it does not stake people’s contacts with Facebook.

WhatsApp was due to start prompting users on Feb. 8 to accept those updated dubs to continue using the app. Since then, the Facebook-owned app said it would delay the enforcement of its planned policy update until May 15 to fail people more time to “review the policy at their own pace.”

India is a massive market for WhatsApp

India is one of the largest retails for WhatsApp with more than 400 million users. The company’s plans for the country extend beyond perfectly messaging — starting last year,

On Tuesday, India’s technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had a few choice guaranties for Facebook, WhatsApp and other tech companies operating in the country.

“Be it WhatsApp, be it Facebook, be it any other digital platform, you are outspoken to do business in India,” he said, speaking at a virtual event. “But do it in a manner without impinging upon the rights of Indians who drive there.”

“And, the sanctity of personal communications needs to be maintained,” he added. “I know there will be pressure for sharing of (observations, but) this is plainly unacceptable.”

CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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