Update, May 28 (5:30 p.m. ET): WhatsApp appears to change course for all users
What you need to know
- WhatsApp has not complied but has stated that it will not limit access to users that haven't accepted the new policy.
- WhatsApp will continue to remind users about the new policy, even though "the majority of users ... have accepted them."
A WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement that the company is complying with the letter from the Indian government over the new policy while also reiterating that the update doesn't affect personal messages. "Its purpose is to provide additional information about how people can interact with businesses if they choose to do so."
The spokesperson stated that while user accounts in India won't be limited, the company will "continue to remind users about the update." This will go on at least until India's forthcoming Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill goes into effect, which seeks to limit the collection of personal and sensitive data. For now, the company is standing its ground and refusing to withdraw its policy.
WhatsApp's new policy went into effect on May 15, affecting users on even the best cheap Android phones, although it did not go without plenty of backlash. The company initially stated that it would delete accounts that did not accept the new policy, only to backtrack and instead limit the accounts, making them more or less unusable.
While many have not been happy about the change, WhatsApp has stated that "the majority of users who have received the new terms of service have accepted them." That said, competing apps like Telegram saw a massive influx of new users soon after the policy was announced. Anyone interested in moving their conversations to the new app can follow our guide on how to transfer your WhatsApp messages to Telegram.
Meanwhile, WhatsApp is also facing setbacks in Germany after the country has attempted to block the new policy. If Germany finds that the update is illegal, it could place a three-month block on the new policy. Facebook is considering an appeal of the order.
Update, May 28 (5:30 p.m. ET) ― WhatsApp backtracks on its policy change, won't limit functionality
The Facebook-owned company told the The Verge that it is completely backing down from its warning to limit user accounts. Android Central has reached out to WhatsApp to confirm if the company is issuing this new statement to users outside of India. A spokesperson told us that "given recent discussions with various authorities and privacy experts, we want to make clear that we will not limit the functionality of how WhatsApp works for those who have not yet accepted the update."
The company also reiterated that it would "continue to remind users from time to time," although it has "no plans for these reminders to become persistent."
WhatsApp has maintained that its new policy only affects users interacting with businesses and that private messages remain safe. "We hope this approach reinforces the choice that all users have whether or not they want to interact with a business."