People Value Privacy More Than Money: SC Issues Notice To WhatsApp Over New Policy
The Logical Indian Crew

'People Value Privacy More Than Money': SC Issues Notice To WhatsApp Over New Policy

“Whether a law is there or not, right to privacy is a fundamental right and it cannot be infringed or violated,” said the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

The Supreme Court, on Monday, issued a notice to Facebook Inc's WhatsApp seeking their response on a plea challenging proposed privacy policy of the messaging app.

The company came under severe criticism from the users and activists over its updated privacy policy introduced in January this year.

A Bench of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde, Justice AS Bopanna, and Justice V Ramasubramanian said that the Indian citizens have grave concerns regarding loss of the privacy and the policy introduced by the popular messaging app, WhatsApp.

"You (WhatsApp and Facebook) maybe two or three trillion companies but people value their privacy more than money. It is our duty to protect their privacy," the Bench told counsels appearing for Facebook and WhatsApp.

As reported by The Indian Express, senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Arvind Datar and Mukul Rohatgi appearing for WhatsApp and Facebook denied the allegations and called this 'misinformation'.

Mukul Rohatgi said, "We can swear neither we store or share personal data. All this is a red herring, the messages are fully encrypted and even WhatsApp can't see them."

The CJI then told the companies counsels, "We are telling you what we heard and read. People think that if somebody messages to someone then the whole circuit of messages is being disclosed to Facebook."

The top court was hearing an application filed by the two college students Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioner, told the Bench that there was a great amount of metadata which was being shared for the profit of the companies and was a privacy concern.

Divan stressed, "We pray that privacy standards were not lowered for Indian users by WhatsApp. They remain barred from sharing data with Facebook."

The new privacy policy, which undermined the privacy standards of Indian users as compared to European counterparts, was introduced at a time when the Personal Data Protection Bill was pending, he added.

The policy was supposed to be introduced by February 8, 2021, and Indians were asked to adapt to the new privacy policy, Divan said, adding that the company had itself extended the deadline to May 15.

The court then issued notice to WhatsApp and Facebook and posted the matter after four weeks.

Appearing for the social media (WhatsApp and Facebook) senior advocate Kapil Sibal denied the allegations that data of users was being compromised under new privacy policy.

Sibal argued that Europe had a special law (General Data Protection Regulations), which India didn't have and the company would've followed the law if India had it.

While interfering Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said: "Whether a law is there or not, right to privacy is a fundamental right and it cannot be infringed or violated."

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