Facebook Faces Parliament Panel Over WhatsApp Policy, Social Media Misuse



Facebook Faces Parliament Panel Over WhatsApp Policy, Social Media Misuse

WhatsApp put the privacy policy changes on hold after widespread outrage.

New Delhi:

Facebook executives will field questions from a parliamentary panel on Thursday about the changes to WhatsApp’s privacy, news agency Reuters reported citing sources, days after the messaging platform was asked by the government to withdraw them.

The panel will ask why Facebook needed to change WhatsApp’s privacy policy and how it will impact users, Reuters reported. WhatsApp did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The parliamentary standing committee is also examining the issue of safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of misuse of social and online media platforms. The agenda also includes the safety of women online.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said in an email to WhatsApp that the new privacy policy terms take away choice from Indian users, asking them to withdraw the proposed changes.

Calling the changes “discriminatory” because the company had a different policy for European users, the government objected to the “invasive” proposal to share user metadata with businesses on its platforms.

The messaging platform earlier this month kicked off a storm when it informed users it was preparing a new privacy policy, under which it could share limited user data, including phone number and location, with Facebook and its group firms.

Demand for rival applications such as Signal and Telegram surged on privacy concerns and WhatsApp last week decided to delay the new policy launch to May from February.


With 400 million users, India is WhatsApp’s biggest market, and the messaging service has big plans for the country’s growing digital payments space, including selling health insurance via partners.

Facebook last year invested $5.7 billion in the digital unit of Mukesh Ambani-led conglomerate Reliance Industries, with a big part of that aimed at drawing in ten of millions of traditional shop owners to use digital payments via WhatsApp.

The proposed changes were postponed last week as WhatsApp sought to reassure users and authorities.

WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media platforms, including Twitter, have also been part of consultations with the government over a data protection bill that is currently being reviewed by a parliamentary panel.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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