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WhatsApp says majority of users have already accepted new privacy policy

Instant messaging giant, WhatsApp, today said the majority of its users have already accepted the company’s new privacy policy. The company revealed the same in a statement issued to the media after reports indicated that the Indian government had asked it to withdraw its controversial new privacy policy, which went live in India on May 15.

“Our goal is to provide information about new options we are building that people will have, to message a business on WhatsApp, in the future. While the majority of users who have received the new terms of service have accepted them, we appreciate some people haven’t had the chance to do so yet. No accounts were deleted on May 15 because of this update and no one in India lost functionality of WhatsApp either. We will follow up with reminders to people over the next several weeks. We’re grateful for the important role WhatsApp plays in people’s lives and we’ll take every opportunity to explain how we protect people’s personal messages and private information,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement.

According to reports, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) sent a letter to the company late on May 18, asking the company to withdraw its new policy. The Ministry said WhatsApp’s policy is in violation of Indian laws and gave the company seven days to respond to the notice. This is the second time the Indian government has written to WhatsApp about the new policy.

WhatsApp’s new privacy policy was announced in January this year and led to controversy all around the world. The policy asked users to either accept its terms or lose access to the platform and seemed to indicate that the company would now share private user data with Facebook.

The company has since claimed that the policy does not increase its ability to collect user data and doesn’t pertain to private messages between users. It also deferred the implementation of the policy from February 8 to May 15, but has now implemented it, despite concerns from various parties. However, WhatsApp hasn’t budged on the fact that users will have to accept the policy, but instead of deleting their accounts right away, it started limiting functionalities of the app.

The Indian government had written a letter to WhatsApp in January, asking the company to withdraw the policy. The letter also suggested that the policy may be in violation of the country’s upcoming data protection laws. The Centre had also alleged earlier that the Facebook-owned company is in violation of India’s Information Technology (IT) rules and urged the Delhi High Court to restrain the app from implementing the new policy.

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