WhatsApp representatives who appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology said the proposed changes are aimed at bringing in more transparency and the chat and calls on platform still remain end-to-end encrypted, some of the members said.
Some other members who attended the meeting maintained that the company was “evasive” in its reply on the issue of how it can bring in changes which are not conducive for Indian users. “They had no reply,” said a member.
The member also claimed that company representative agreed that data was being monetised.
The committee interacted separately with representatives of Facebook, Twitter and ministry of electronics and information technology.
After the meeting, a WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement, “We wish to thank the Honorable Parliamentary Committee for giving us an opportunity to appear before them and provide our views. We look forward to assisting the Hon’ble Committee in future as well.”
The letter noted that with over 400 million users in India, the changes will have a disproportionate impact on the country’s citizens.
In the updated policy, it got a right to share data it collected from WhatsApp users with the broader Facebook network, which includes Instagram, regardless of owning any accounts or profiles there. Some businesses, as per the new policy, were to use Facebook-owned servers to store messages.
This triggered an outcry regardless of WhatsApp’s assertion that all private messages between friends and family members remain end-to-end encrypted.