WhatsApp has been in a whirlpool of controversy recently, after it notified users of a policy change which would allow the messaging service to share data with Facebook. The biggest cause of concern has been that the company did not offer any choice to its users, saying that those who do not accept the new policy will have their accounts banned. While WhatsApp later moved to delay the update to May, Indian government is not content with the decision, and has asked the company to suspend the update altogether in a stern worded email from the country’s IT ministry.
In said email, India’s IT ministry said to WhatsApp that “you are called upon to withdraw the proposed changes,” citing “grave concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens.”
The ministry thinks that it users should have the right to choose whether they want to share their data with a certain entity. It also highlighted that users in EU, a region which is known for its tight-knit privacy laws, are exempt from this policy change, and Indians should get the same liberty as well.
“Such a differential treatment is prejudicial to the interests of Indian users and is viewed with serious concern by the government. The government of India owes a sovereign responsibility to its citizens to ensure that their interests are not compromised and therefore it calls upon WhatsApp to respond to concerns raised in this letter,” the ministry wrote in the email.
However, users are still infuriated by the lack of choice, and are gravitating towards alternatives like Telegram and Signal, which have seen massive growth trajectories. In contrast, the India made messaging service Hike had to discontinue yesterday, as it failed to make use of the changing market trend and struggled to add new users.