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India parliament panel to question Facebook on WhatsApp's privacy terms

The panel will ask why Facebook needed to change WhatsApp's privacy policy and how it will impact users.

The logo for Facebook Inc. WhatsApp messaging app arranged on a smartphone in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on Wednesday Jan. 20, 2021. WhatsApp has�delayed�the introduction of a new privacy policy announced earlier this month after�confusion and user backlash�forced the messaging service to better explain what data it collects and how it shares that information with parent company,�Facebook Inc. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg
The logo for Facebook Inc. WhatsApp messaging app arranged on a smartphone in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on Wednesday Jan. 20, 2021. WhatsApp has�delayed�the introduction of a new privacy policy announced earlier this month after�confusion and user backlash�forced the messaging service to better explain what data it collects and how it shares that information with parent company,�Facebook Inc. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg (Bloomberg)

Facebook executives will field questions from an Indian parliamentary panel on Thursday about the changes to WhatsApp's privacy, a source said, days after the messaging platform was asked by the country's technology ministry to withdraw them.

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

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.

Earlier this week, India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said in an email to WhatsApp boss that the new privacy policy terms take away choice from Indian users.

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