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Changes moved back to May, while Indian Supreme Court receives calls to ban the app on grounds of national security

WhatsApp delays updated privacy policy following criticism

WhatsApp announced last week it was delaying the introduction of its new privacy policy by three months to 15th May to better explain to users what type of data it collects from them and how the information is shared with Facebook.

In a blog post published on Friday, the popular messaging service, which is owned by Facebook, said that it has received a lot of messages from users regarding the “confusion” on its recent privacy policy update.

“Misinformation” on the update is a big concern for the company, it said, adding that it wants everyone to “understand our principles and the facts”.

WhatsApp assured users that it would always protect their private messages with end-to-end encryption, so that nobody, including WhatsApp and Facebook, is able to see those personal messages.

The firm explained that it doesn’t keep a record of users’ messages or their audio/video calls, can’t view their shared locations and does not share users’ contact details with Facebook.

“None of that” will change with the new privacy policy, the messaging service asserted.

“Instead, the update includes new options people will have to message a business on WhatsApp,” it added.

WhatsApp says it expects more people to use the service for business purposes and wants them to be aware of various features available on the app.

However, it doesn’t cover the sharing of metadata – information about who users are messaging, at what time and from which device – which is the real cause of concern, particularly as Facebook said it would not collect data from WhatsApp when it bought the firm in 2014.

Earlier this month, WhatsApp published a new privacy policy and terms of service, revealing how it plans to share user data with parent company Facebook and its subsidiaries. The company said that its new policy would come into effect on 8th February and that it reserves the right to share some user data with the Facebook. There is no option to opt out.

Users received a notification from the company, asking them to agree to the changes or lose access to the app after 8th February.

The move angered millions of users, who have since then moved to competing apps, such as Signal and Telegram. Signal even became the number one app in its category in many parts of the world, with so many new subscribers joining that it has struggled to scale up.

Last week, a petition was also filed in the Supreme Court of India by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) against WhatsApp’s new privacy policy.

The petition states that the policy is “not only violative of the law but can impact the national security of the country”.

India is currently the biggest market for WhatsApp, with more than 400 million users.

The Indian government is reportedly examining the controversy surrounding WhatsApp’s new update, with a discussion being held at the highest levels.

“We are collecting details,” an official source told the Times of India.

The CAIT is urging the Indian government to either restrict WhatsApp from implementing the new privacy policy or ban the service completely in India.

Source: Computing