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WhatsApp sings a different tune in India as it scraps May 15 deadline to accept privacy policy changes

WhatsApp has finally budged, at least in India, as the company on Friday said that it will not delete accounts of its users in India who do not accept updates to its privacy policy by May 15. 

The company said in a statement that the messaging app’s functionality will remain unaffected for Indian users who do not accept the updates. 

“No accounts will be deleted on May 15 because of this update and no one in India will lose functionality of WhatsApp either. We will follow up with reminders to people over the next several weeks,” the company said. 

The Facebook-owned popular messaging also said that “majority” of its users have accepted the updated policy, although it did not specify any number of users. The company has more than 530 million users in India. We have reached out to WhatsApp for more details.  

Initially announced in January 2021, the company had faced severe backlash over its privacy policy and terms of service changes as people believed it allowed for increased data sharing between the messaging service and other products of its parent – the Facebook group. 

The updates were also mandatory for all users to accept without which they couldn’t use the service. 

However, despite multiple revisions to the deadline and WhatsApp’s assurances that the data of its users was safe, the proposed updates caused a privacy-related furore. 

A number of pleas were filed in several courts across the country asking for WhatsApp to retract the updates. India’s competition watchdog also launched an investigation into WhatsApp’s privacy policy after it felt the updates violated the competition law.

One thing is of note in WhatsApp’s latest announcement: the company is singing a different tune in India—its biggest market in terms of user base—compared to the rest of the world.

In other markets, while the company has scrapped the May 15 deadline to accept the changes, users will not be able to use all of the app’s functionalities for a long period of time.

According to information on its FAQ page, WhatsApp will start showing these users “persistent reminders” to accept the updates, failing which users won’t be able to access their chat list and can only answer incoming phone and video calls initially. After a few weeks of this, users in other markets will lose these functionalities as well.

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