"[...] The new policy of WhatsApp proposes to share the metadata of users' chat with business accounts with other Facebook companies. It would create a honeypot of information about users with Facebook group which can create security risks and vulnerabilities for users", Indian news channel NDTV's website reported on Tuesday, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.
Further, the letter raised concerns against the mandatory nature of the update that did not come with an “opting-out” feature.
"Ministry further objects to the all-or-nothing approach of WhatsApp that forces users to accept the new service terms and privacy policies, without giving an option to the users to opt-out of this proposed change of integrating user data with other Facebook companies", NDTV quoted the letter written by India’s federal Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) as saying.
A few days ago, WhatsApp dismissed rumours and clarified that its policies on data-sharing remain unchanged for European users.
Along with the letter, the Indian government has sent WhatsApp a list of 14 questions around its privacy and data security concerns.
These questions ask WhatsApp to detail the exact categories of data that it collects from users in India, the permissions and user consent sought by the app, and how each of these would be used.
As of now, WhatsApp’s official response to the letter by the Indian government remains awaited.
Meanwhile, the platform has not only pushed back the enforcement of its policy update by three months against the backdrop of negative global reactions, it has also released official clarifications on its webpage.
The app, which claims to be in use by two billion people worldwide, has said that it does not share or store information such as call logs, message content, or locations shared privately between users in their chats.