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WhatsApp officials appear before House panel over privacy policy change

The panel separately interacted with representatives of Facebook, Twitter and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
January 22, 2021 4:09:19 am
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THE PARLIAMENTARY panel on Information Technology on Thursday questioned representatives of WhatsApp over proposed its changes in privacy policy and raised concerns of Indian citizens, sources said.

The WhatsApp representatives who appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology said the proposed changes are aimed at bringing in more transparency and the chat and calls on messaging platform still remain end-to-end encrypted, it is learned.

According to the sources, the representatives of WhatsApp said that there was no change in the privacy policy of 2016 and in fact it has become more transparent. A source said the representatives answered all the questions raised by the panel members and assured them that they would give in writing the responses to the questions for which they could not answer adequately.

The source also claimed that the company representatives agreed that data was being monetised.

The panel separately interacted with representatives of Facebook, Twitter and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

After the meeting, a WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement, “We wish to thank the Honorable Parliamentary Committee for giving us an opportunity to appear before them and provide our views. We look forward to assisting the Hon’ble Committee in future as well.”

In a strongly-worded letter to WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart earlier this week, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had said the proposed changes to the WhatsApp Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, without giving users an option to opt out, “raise grave concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens”. The letter noted that with over 400 million users in India, the changes will have a disproportionate impact on the country’s citizens.

WhatsApp had earlier this month begun asking its 2 billion users worldwide to accept an update of its privacy policy if they want to keep using the popular messaging app. The new terms caused an outcry among technology experts, privacy advocates and users and triggered a wave of defections to rival services such as Signal and Telegram.



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