The Indian government then stepped in, demanding that Facebook withdraw the new privacy changes. India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) gave Facebook a week to respond to its letter, threatening additional legal action. Facebook has relented, admitting another defeat. It will no longer block WhatsApp functionality to users who have not accepted the new terms — for the time being.
Facebook said in previous remarks that most WhatsApp users had accepted the terms without offering specific stats. But the early backlash to the planned changes showed many WhatsApp users weren’t happy with Facebook’s decision to force the update. There was no way to reject the privacy changes initially, even though they cover optional e-commerce functionality that Facebook wants to grow in WhatsApp. That hasn’t changed.
Facebook has responded to the Indian government’s letter, reports Live Mint, saying that it won’t cripple WhatsApp functionality. It will continue to remind users of the new policy, at least until India’s upcoming Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill comes into effect. The language Facebook used indicates that it might always change its mind again.
“We have responded to the Government of India’s letter and assured them that the privacy of users remains our highest priority. As a reminder, the recent update does not change the privacy of people’s personal messages. Its purpose is to provide additional information about how people can interact with businesses if they choose to do so,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement.
“We will not limit the functionality of how WhatsApp works in the coming weeks. Instead, we will continue to remind users about the update as well as when people choose to use relevant optional features, such as communicating with a business that is receiving support from Facebook.”
“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 statement reads.
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