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Delhi High Court Issues Notice On New Plea Against WhatsApp's Privacy Policy Update

Shreya Agarwal
3 Feb 2021 12:03 PM GMT
Delhi High Court Issues Notice On New Plea Against WhatsApps Privacy Policy Update
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WhatsApp's notification of its new privacy policy, which was made mandatory for Indian users and optional for users from the EU, has triggered a host of petitions across the country challenging its application. The Delhi High Court today issued notice on one such plea filed before the bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, and sought responses of the Centre and WhatsApp on...

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WhatsApp's notification of its new privacy policy, which was made mandatory for Indian users and optional for users from the EU, has triggered a host of petitions across the country challenging its application. The Delhi High Court today issued notice on one such plea filed before the bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, and sought responses of the Centre and WhatsApp on the petition.

The petition, filed by one Dr. Seema Singh, and argued by Adv. Meghan, states that the new WhatsApp privacy policy released on Jan 4, 2021 is violative of the fundamental right to privacy under Article 21, because while its old privacy policy which was issued on Jul 20, 2020 provided the users to opt in or out of data sharing with other Facebook companies, the new policy does not provide the users any option to protect their personal data by opting out of their policy.

The plea states that according to the new policy WhatsApp can share information with third party service providers and other Facebook companies. This data sharing arrangement, the plea argues, will be used by the WhatsApp and its holding companies for them to analyse and further share, thus leaving scope for use as well as exploitation. This, the petitioner apprehends could lead to privacy violations.

The Delhi High Court had earlier refused to issue notice on a plea by Adv. Chaitanya Rohilla, stating that WhatsApp was a private application and users very well had the option to not use it if they didn't agree with the update privacy policy.

Explaining how the present petition was different from the earlier petition on the issue filed by Adv Chaitanya Rohilla, Adv Meghan says, "This petition talks about three elemental rights intrinsic to privacy. They have been recognized by the Justice Shreekrishna Committe Report as well as the Personal Data Protection Bill. They are, the right to access, the right to objection, restriction and portability of data, and the right to be forgotten. However, no procedure is available as of now to effectuate these rights. We pray for the court or the Union of India to frame guidelines for effectuating these rights."

The specific prayers in the petition are, that the court should issue directions for the framing of rules/guidelines/regulations to protect privacy and data of the citizens from all apps and organisations operating in India for an option to be given to the users each time any data is collected from them.

For this, the petition says, the apps should be directed to issue "a clear warning before collecting such data, and establish a mechanism where users can select each and every time data is sent out from the users device, so as to inform the user in detail each and every time what data has been transferred out from the users device."

Following public outcry, the WhatsApp had pushed the last date of February 8 for updation of new policy to May 15.

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