The ministry of electronics and information technology shot off a letter to WhatsApp on 18 May on the issue, people aware of the development said and warned that necessary steps in accordance with law will be taken if a satisfactory response was not received within seven days.
In fulfilment of its sovereign responsibility to protect the rights and interests of Indian citizens, the government will consider various options available to it under laws in India, the people said.
WhatsApp, which has 530 million users in India as per government data, had faced severe backlash over user concerns that data was being shared with parent company Facebook.
The platform had said there was no universal or uniform time limit after which it will start to delete accounts as each user would be dealt with on case-to-case basis.
“As you are doubtlessly aware, many Indian citizens depend on WhatsApp to communicate in everyday life. 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,” as per the communication.
“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,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement.
Prasid Banerjee of Mint contributed to the story.
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