“The proposed changes raise grave concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens,” the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology wrote in an email to WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart dated January 18, according to NDTV. “Therefore, you are called upon to withdraw the proposed changes.”
The letter also noted that the users have not been provided with the choice to opt-out of these new data-sharing terms with Facebook and compared to the app’s users in the Europen market, the Indian users are given less choice.
“This differential and discriminatory treatment of Indian and European users is attracting serious criticism and betrays a lack of respect for the rights and interest of Indian citizens who form a substantial portion of WhatsApp’s user base,” it said.
WhatsApp responded with a statement saying that it was working to address misinformation and remains available to answer any questions. “We wish to reinforce that this update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook.”
The ministry has also asked WhatsApp to respond to 14 questions including whether it profiled customers based on usage, the categories of user data it collected, and cross-border data flows, among others.