The controversial change in WhatsApp privacy terms has just gained another chapter. The government of India, a country that is by far the largest market for the app in the world, has asked the company to cancel the latest change in usage guidelines, which mandatorily requires data sharing with Facebook starting in May.
The request came from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology of India. In a letter written to WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart, the government asks the company to reconsider the move to ensure “privacy, freedom of choice and data security” for users.
According to the Android Authority, the letter sent to the company’s CEO also says “any unilateral changes to WhatsApp’s Terms of Service and Privacy are unfair and unacceptable.”
The letter was sent by the Indian government to WhatsApp the day after a court dispute in Delhi over updating the app’s policies. The country’s high court considered the new policies voluntary and said that users have the option of not accepting the new guidelines.
WhatsApp’s new privacy terms make data sharing with Facebook mandatory. If the user does not accept the guidelines, the account in the application may be suspended or deleted in the future.
WhatsApp tries to defend itself after sharing data with Facebook
The change is so controversial that WhatsApp has postponed the launch of the new privacy terms to May and is taking steps to reassure the public. Meanwhile, competitors like Telegram and Signal have started to gain ground in the messaging app market.
The influence of the Indian government may help WhatsApp to reconsider the decision to share data with Facebook. The country has the largest user base of the app in the world. More than 340 million Indians use the messenger, according to data from 2019.