Facebook, which owns messaging platform WhatsApp, on Thursday clarified that it has not “functionally changed” its privacy policy, reported The Hindu. Officials of Facebook and Twitter deposed before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor.

Facebook’s clarification came at a time when concerns have been raised about data privacy with respect to WhatsApp. On January 4, WhatsApp had announced changes to the privacy policy. Questions were raised about how the company was forcing users to agree to share their information with Facebook if they want to keep using the service. After facing widespread backlash, WhatsApp on January 16 announced that it would delay the planned privacy update till May 15, and would do a “lot more to clear up misinformation” about the app.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology told WhatsApp Chief Executive Officer Will Cathcart that the company must reconsider its approach to information privacy, freedom of choice and data security. The ministry further opposed the “all-or-nothing approach of WhatsApp” that forces users to accept the new service terms and privacy policies, without giving an option to the users to opt-out of this proposed change of integrating user data with other Facebook companies.

Facebook officials clarified that the privacy policy was “functionally” the same as what has been since 2016. “They said that while it is functionally the same as the 2016 policy the platform has improved transparency standards,” a panel member told The Hindu.

The 31-member panel, led by Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor, met Twitter’s India and South Asia Public Policy Director Mahima Kaul and Facebook’s Public Policy Director Shivnath Thukral, along with other officials from the social media platforms, reported News18. The agenda of the meeting included safeguarding citizens’ rights, preventing misuse of social news media platforms and women security in the digital space.

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  2. WhatsApp privacy concerns are not new. So why are Indians talking about quitting it now?