On May 18, the Ministry of Electronics and IT sent a letter to WhatsApp warning that necessary steps in accordance with law will be taken if a satisfactory response was not received within seven days.
The ministry has taken a strong position on the matter, and made it clear that it is not just problematic but also "irresponsible" for the messaging platform to leverage its position to impose "unfair" terms and conditions on Indian users. WhatsApp has 53 crore users in India as per government data.
When contacted, a WhatsApp spokesperson said the company continues to engage with the government. "... we reaffirm what we said before that this update does not impact the privacy of personal messages for anyone... we'll take every opportunity to explain how we protect people's personal messages and private information," the spokesperson added.
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 sources at the ministry said.
The application 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 a case-to-case basis.
In January this year, WhatsApp had informed users about the changes in its terms of service and public policy through an in-app notification. Users were initially given time till February 8 to agree to the new terms in order to continue using the platform.
According to WhatsApp, the key updates include more information about its service and how it processes user data; how businesses can use Facebook hosted services to store and manage their WhatsApp chats; and how WhatsApp partners with Facebook to offer integrations across the company products.