Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

‘Won’t limit functional­ity if users don’t accept policy’

- Press Trust of India

Whatsapp on Thursday said it will not limit the functional­ity of the messaging app for users not agreeing to its new privacy policy, but will continue to send reminders about the update.

Whatsapp said its recent policy update does not change the privacy of people’s personal messages, and it has already written to the government seeking to assure them that the privacy of users remains its highest priority. On Thursday, the Centre has told the Delhi High Court that the messaging platform was trying to “force” its users to consent to the new privacy policy before the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill becomes the law by bombarding them with notificati­ons daily to obtain their consent.

“We reiterate that we have already responded to the Government of India and assured them that the privacy of users remains our highest priority,” a Whatsapp spokespers­on said in an emailed statement.

A raging debate had ensued this year after Whatsapp said it will update its terms of service and privacy policy around how it processes user data and partners with Facebook to offer integratio­ns across the social media giant’s products.

The Facebook-owned firm has insisted that its contentiou­s privacy policy will not limit the functional­ity of how Whatsapp works in the coming weeks.

“Instead, we will continue to remind users from time to time about the update as well as when people choose to use relevant optional features, like communicat­ing with a business that is receiving support from Facebook,” the spokespers­on said.

The spokespers­on further noted that the recent update does not change the privacy of people’s personal messages and that its purpose is to provide additional informatio­n about how people can interact with businesses if they choose to do so.

“We hope this approach reinforces the choice that all users have whether or not they want to interact with a business. We will maintain this approach until at least the forthcomin­g PDP law comes into effect,” the spokespers­on said.

Terming Whatsapp’s bombarding of notificati­ons on its customers as an “anti-user practice” for obtaining “trick consent”, the central government on Thursday urged the court to direct the messaging platform to desist from pushing notificati­ons onto its existing users with regard to the new privacy policy.

The Centre’s claim has been made in an additional affidavit filed in response to several pleas challengin­g the new privacy policy of Whatsapp.

Whatsapp—which has 53 crore users in India as per the government data—had faced severe backlash over user concerns that data was being shared with parent company Facebook.

Interestin­gly, the new rules for social media companies have also come into effect from the last month that mandate large platforms like Facebook and Twitter to undertake greater due diligence and make these digital platforms more accountabl­e and responsibl­e for the content hosted by them.

 ?? STOCK PHOTO ?? Whatsapp said it will continue to send reminders about the update.
STOCK PHOTO Whatsapp said it will continue to send reminders about the update.

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