Now, what exactly will happen if users choose not to accept the new policy has come to light. A banner will be displayed on the app which users can click to view the policy in more detail after which, they can choose whether or not to accept.
If users choose not to accept by May 15th, Whatsapp will not delete your account but, “you won’t have full functionality of Whatsapp until you accept.” The company said on their FAQ Page. Users will still be able to receive calls but will not be able to read or send text messages on the app.
Users may accept the changes even after May 15th, however, Whatsapp’s policy on inactive users – which states that accounts are deleted after 120 days of inactivity – will apply. Chats and data can be exported before May 15th but once an account is deleted, data stored on Whatsapp servers cannot be recovered.
This revelation, first reported by TechCrunch, comes soon after the Supreme Court issued notice to Whatsapp and Facebook on a plea which sought to restrict the implementation of this new policy. The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India, Sharad. A. Bobde, directed the company to explain its stance through a counter affidavit within four weeks of the judgement made on February 15th.
The plea brought notice to the different privacy policies the company enforces in Europe vis-a-vis the rest of the world due to the stringent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applicable in around 27 countries in the European region.
The plea sought for the European policy to be applied to India. It went on to note that a new Personal Data Protection Bill was in the pipeline and that Whatsapp should not go ahead with any new data-sharing until the same is passed. During the hearing, the Chief Justice expressed his grievances regarding data privacy and remarked, “You may be a 2-3 trillion-dollar company but the privacy of people is more important than your money.”
Despite these moves, Whatsapp seems to be moving forward with the plans to introduce the new policy, focusing more on explaining the changes to their users than to the court.
(Siddharth Ganguly is a journalism student at the Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communications, Pune, and is working as an intern with The Leaflet.)