In a letter to WhatsApp on Tuesday — which was read to TechCrunch — MeitY has given the popular instant messaging provider seven days to offer a “satisfactory” response. Failure to do so, the ministry warned, will prompt lawful measures.
“In fulfilment of its sovereign responsibility to protect the rights and interests of Indian citizens, the government of India will consider various options available to it under laws in India,” the letter reads.
This is not the first time New Delhi has issued a notice to WhatsApp about the new privacy terms. Earlier this year, in a similar letter, the Indian government had expressed “grave concerns” about the planned update.
A spokesperson at the time told TechCrunch that the vast majority of users who had seen the new privacy terms on the app had accepted it.
With over 450 million users, India is WhatsApp’s biggest market by users.
In response to a petition filed in the Delhi High Court earlier this month, WhatsApp argued that many Indian firms maintain similar policies and share more data.
WhatsApp has also found out that platforms like food-delivery app Zomato, ride-hailing app Ola, the Indian government’s Aarogya Setu app, and video conferencing app Zoom collect a similar or greater amount of data, according to a report by Inc42.
“It is not just problematic, but also irresponsible, for WhatsApp to leverage this position to impose unfair terms and conditions on Indian users, particularly those that discriminate against Indian users vis-à-vis users in Europe,” the ministry wrote in the letter.