WhatsApp, laid out fresh terms on Wednesday, asking users to agree to let owner Facebook Inc. and its subsidiaries collect user data, including their phone number and location. Many privacy activists have questioned these new terms and asked users to switch to apps like Signal and Telegram. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is also taking a close look at the encrypted messaging app’s new privacy policy wherein it will be sharing commercial user data with parent Facebook.

The ministry’s concern emerges from the fact that so far, organizations like Facebook, etc. maintained the stance that they do not share user data with anybody. Such organizations and platforms call themselves intermediaries, which means that they do not own content and are just platforms where third-party entities place content.

This particular status prevents them from liability in case anything unlawful is noticed on their platforms and the government can ask a particular platform to remove any unlawful content shared on it. The government feels that the recent privacy policy of WhatsApp to share commercial user data with Facebook in a way establishes that it is the owner of the data and hence it can safely not be considered as an intermediary.

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Privacy experts and anti-trust bodies have also raised an alarm at this new privacy policy of WhatsApp. Signal’s popularity shot up further on Thursday after it was endorsed by Elon Musk. More than 100,000 users installed Signal across the app stores of Apple and Google in the last two days, while Telegram picked up nearly 2.2 million downloads. New installs of WhatsApp fell by 11% in the first seven days of 2021 compared with the prior week, but that still amounted to an estimated 10.5 million downloads globally.