WhatsApp’s India honeymoon is soon about to get over. The instant messaging platform which was bought by Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook on the promise that data of WhatsApp will not be shared with parent company Facebook, has now been made a toy doll of American bosses who seem to have grown a tendency to snoop around the data of millions of worldwide users.
As per a Times of India report, the Indian government has started examining the controversy surrounding the WhatsApp’s new update. “We are collecting details,” said an official source. The issue is reportedly being discussed at the highest levels of the IT ministry.
The Indian government has caught WhatsApp red-handed trying to arm-twist its Indian users, while it follows a policy of leniency in the European Union, where strict data protection laws are already in place, unlike India. “Also, the privacy update sought by WhatsApp in user agreement in European Union is seen as lenient while in India it is wide-ranging and may have terms that may potentially harm user privacy,” the official source added.
Meanwhile, amid the major uproar, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) also wrote to the Union IT Ministry seeking either a ban on Facebook as well as WhatsApp or a restriction on WhatsApp from implementing its updated policy. Despite WhatsApp issuing what it calls ‘clarifications’ regarding its new data sharing policy, and stating that the new policy does not affect the chats of private individuals or groups, a near exodus of Indians to alternate messaging apps is being seen.
Rival messaging app Signal beat not only WhatsApp but also Facebook and Instagram in weekly India downloads in the week gone by, indicative of increasing concern over the data sharing policies of Mark Zuckerberg’s social media giant. While Signal was downloaded 3.3 million times in the January 5-11 period, WhatsApp saw 1.7 million downloads, Facebook 2.1 million downloads, and Instagram 2.3 million during the same period, according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower’s data.
Signal downloads rose 23471% and Telegram downloads rose 18%, in comparison to downfalls witnessed by Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. WhatsApp has close to 40 crore active users in India, making it a major market for the American digital conglomerate.
With the Modi government initiating internal discussions to probe WhatsApp’s new data policy and most likely calling the massaging app’s executives in for questioning, compounded with the fact that users are taking it upon themselves to teach American big tech a lesson, Mark Zuckerberg-owned Facebook and its affiliates are in for big trouble in the country, with the good times most definitely having passed for them.