India-WhatsApp letter game on amid data security concerns

New Delhi: Another data privacy concern, another “strongly-worded” letter to Facebook-owned WhatsApp. At a time when countries are taking social media firms to task with heavy fines asking them for real-time actions, India is busy playing the letter game sans a strong personal data privacy law.

There are no changes to WhatsApp’s data-sharing practices in Europe from the new policy update (now deferred globally including in India for three months till May 15). Europe has a strict General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in place since May 25, 2018, that insulates citizens from misuse of their private data by social media platforms and third-party tech companies.

In India, forget the data privacy law, the government has even failed to notify the draft intermediary Guidelines (Amendment) Rules for the last two years.

The government had proposed changes to its intermediary rules that would require the intermediary to inform its users at least once every month, that in case of non-compliance with rules and regulations, the intermediary has the right to immediately terminate the access or usage rights of the users to the computer resource of intermediary and remove non-compliant information.

In the case of upcoming WhatsApp data privacy policy, the Union Ministry of Electronics and IT has asked the messaging platform to withdraw, not defer, the recent change. In its letter to WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart, the ministry slammed the platform’s “all or nothing” approach.

This is not the first time a letter has been dispatched to the Facebook Corporation.

In July 2019, Prasad told Cathcart to enable traceability of messages to prevent untoward incidents. The minister said the top official had assured him of prompt action in these issues of “concern”,…