HC keeping an eye on new WhatsApp privacy policy

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Awaiting the decision from the Supreme Court constitution bench on making right to privacy a fundamental right or not, a PIL has been filed against WhatsApp that challenges it’s new privacy policy; introduced to its users on the 25th of August.

Delhi High Court, while hearing the public interest litigation against the messaging service, asked to submit it’s response regarding the complaint to state whether it’s new policy is violating the right to privacy. The court sought clarity from WhatsApp and Facebook on data sharing pact between the two multimillion corporations. Earlier the court had issued notice to the Centre seeking its response. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India informed the High Court that the government has no jurisdiction over the independent messaging service WhatsApp.

Representing the messaging service WhatsApp in India, Senior Counsel Siddharth Luthra has stated in front of the High Court that the service provides end to end encryption, a service that is only to ensure safety of data shared, under which only phone number and name is shared with it’s new parent organisation, Facebook. No data shared between users is retained by Whatsapp. The company has been asked to file an affidavit for the same by September 14.

The public interest litigation has allegedly stated that the new privacy policy permits WhatsApp to share data with Facebook and the users are do not have the real choice of opting out of sharing their personal information with third party like Facebook.

The plea clearly marks that WhatsApp new privacy policy just provides an opt out option from commercial content and advertisements. The second key point that the plea is enlightening is that WhatsApp policy on users who have stopped using the messaging service is not clear. It has not been mentioned properly what the company does with the data of previous consumers who have stopped using WhatsApp. The public interest litigation filed by Karmanya Singh and Shreya Sethi alleges WhatsApp policy violating the right to privacy.

Delhi HC will hear the matter next on September 21 as WhatsApp new policy comes into effect on September 25.

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