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Differential Policy Of WhatsApp For Indian And EU Users Major Cause Of Concern: Centre To Delhi High Court

Shreya Agarwal
25 Jan 2021 6:08 AM GMT
Differential Policy Of WhatsApp For Indian And EU Users Major Cause Of Concern: Centre To Delhi High Court
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In response to a petition in the Delhi High Court by Adv Chaitanya Rohilla challenging WhatsApp's recent update to its privacy policy, the Centre today submitted through Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, that WhatsApp's differential policy for users in India and the European Union with respect to acceptance of the updated policy, was a major cause of concern."Indian users form...

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In response to a petition in the Delhi High Court by Adv Chaitanya Rohilla challenging WhatsApp's recent update to its privacy policy, the Centre today submitted through Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, that WhatsApp's differential policy for users in India and the European Union with respect to acceptance of the updated policy, was a major cause of concern.

"Indian users form a substantial part of Whatsapp's user base, yet preferential treatment has been given to EU users, this is a major cause of concern. Reasonable and cogent policies must be put in place by WhatsApp," he said.
He then mentioned the Personal Data Protection Bill, which is pending before the Parliament and submitted that the Bill addresses a majority of concerns similar to the ones raised in the present petition, and lays down a policy with respect to the matter.
Single Judge bench of Justice Sanjeeb Sachdeva, hearing the matter, then replied, "So the government is looking into the matter?"
ASG Sharma then replied in the positive and further elaborated that the Minister had already gone on record to state the Ministry's concern with respect to the new policy. Taking note of the submission, that the matter is already being looked into at the highest level, and that Whatsapp's reply to the government's communication is still pending, the court renotified the matter for Mar 1.
The petitioner who has challenged the policy responded to the Court's question posed last time, as to which part of the policy the petitioner was objecting to, and submitted that the part with respect to third party services was the bone of contention and a serious threat to the country's security and democracy as information was shared globally.
Reiterating its stand from last time, the court said that not only was using the application voluntary, but every other application too has similar terms and conditions, therefore it had to be explained as to how this application prejudiced the petitioner.
"What is the ultimate relief that you are seeking?", asked the Delhi High Court, to which the petitioner sought directions to the centre to lay down guidelines to ensure that WhatsApp does not share data with third parties, and for a stay on their updated privacy policy. The Court questioned if it could issue such directions to the Government to frame the law.
At this point, Lal pointed out that there was a judgment of the High Court the Centre to frame law on the subject.
The court noted that when the judgment said it was the discretion of the Parliament to take a view and the court cannot direct.
Interjecting at this point, Counsel for Facebook, Sr. Adv. Mukul Rohatgi submitted that the Govt had already written to them wanting certain clarifications and that they will respond. 
"In the judgment, Data Protection Bill is being actively considered by the government. Matter is pending in Supreme Court", he said.
"Regulatory authorities have to decide the matter. It will come after law is put in place," Sr. Adv. Kapil Sibal for Whatsapp backed Rohatgi.



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