11:32 GMT27 February 2021
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    WhatsApp is used by over two billion people worldwide, of which around 400 million are in India. The app, which is owned by Facebook, allows people to connect with each other via messages and free internet calls – voice as well as video.

    At a time when WhatsApp’s recent mandatory policy update notification is facing flak from around the world, Indians are also expressing major resentment towards the app.

    In its policy update, WhatsApp admitted to have been sharing some user data from its 2018-launched “Business” app with Facebook – in order to personalise the buying and selling experiences of merchants and customers connecting via the app.

    A recent survey conducted with over 500 participants in India has revealed that 82 percent of WhatsApp users are against the app’s privacy policy. A total of 37 percent of those quizzed sternly considered WhatsApp’s privacy update to be a serious breach while others were still waiting for more details to make a concrete decision, the study by Indian market research firm Better World–BM Nxt said.

    Significantly, 22 percent of the respondents were users of WhatsApp’s Business app. The majority of them voiced an intention to sign up for alternatives like Signal and Telegram. 

    Amid the controversy, 29 percent of participants in India said they could switch apps within a month, 25 percent said they could do so within a week, and 18 percent said they have already switched.

    ​The study further explored what the users think the government should do about the app update.

    While 33 percent said that it is better to let users be the best judge, 24 percent of the respondents suggested the government should ask WhatsApp to roll back the changes. 43 percent of participants, on the other hand, stated that there needs to be a more holistic regulation in place for other apps that could be collecting and sharing user data as well.

    Last week, the Indian government reacted to WhatsApp’s new privacy policy with a strongly-worded letter, addressed to Will Cathcart, the global CEO of the instant messaging app. 

    The letter raised concerns against the mandatory nature of the update that did not come with an “opting-out” feature.

    After drawing severe criticism from around the world, WhatsApp has pushed back the enforcement of its policy update by three months, as of now.

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