In deepening troubles for WhatsApp in India, the country's technology ministry has asked the Facebook-owned chat service to withdraw a pending update to the app's data-sharing policy announced earlier this month, the Hindustan Times reported on Thursday.
According to India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the changes pose a new privacy headache.
Policy changes for users of the app have raised "grave concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens... therefore, you are called upon to withdraw the proposed changes," said the MEIT's Jan. 18 email addressed to WhatsApp Chief Executive Officer Will Cathcart.
India's IT officials are particularly unhappy with two other measures proposed by WhatsApp as part of the policy revision, the first being a "forced adoption plan" for users to either accept the changes or be removed from the platform, reports said.
The other concern is the seemingly tolerant privacy overhaul for Europeans (in view of its data protection law) in relation to the plan for India and users in Europe.
India's tech ministry reportedly called the policy redraft as "discriminatory treatment" that "betrays a lack of respect for the rights and interest of Indian citizens."
"Such a differential treatment is prejudicial to the interests of Indian users and is viewed with serious concern by the government," technology officials wrote in an email.
WhatsApp didn't immediately respond to a request for comment but has previously disclosed its new policy change doesn't affect the privacy of users' messages with family, friends and in groups.
The move has sparked a fallout across the world and resulted in a surge in downloads of alternative messaging apps like Telegram and Signal. India is among WhatsApp's most lucrative markets with 400 million users.