The primary contention of the petitioner is that the new policy ‘virtually gives a 360-degree profile into a person’s online activity’, without any ‘government oversight’, and ‘takes away the choice’ of a user to not share their data with other Facebook-owned apps and third-party apps. The petition has highlighted there is no clarity on the extent to which data will be shared. It raises questions about what will be done with the sensitive data of users.
In the Court, the counsel for the petitioner, advocate Manohar Lal contended that there should be some law, as everything that a user was doing was being analysed by the Facebook-owned WhatsApp. This included personal messages and browsing history.
But the Court said that several other platforms also did the same and not just Whatsapp alone. It gave the example of Google Maps and mentioned that Google Maps also shares data. The Court asked the counsel for the petitioner, that it doubted if he had read the terms and conditions of any of the apps that he uses.
During the brief hearing, Senior Counsel appearing for WhatsApp and Facebook submitted that the private WhatsApp chats were completely encrypted. They said the petition itself is not maintainable.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal who was appearing for WhatsApp said that users don't have to message businesses if they don't want to.
The Court has adjourned the matter till January 25. It also observed that the new policy itself had been deferred as of now. But the Court did not issue a notice in the petition yet.
“We’re now moving back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms. No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8,” said WhatsApp recently. “We're also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security work on WhatsApp. We’ll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15.”
It said WhatsApp was built on a simple idea: “what you share with your friends and family stays between you.” The firm said this means it will always protect users personal conversations with end-to-end encryption so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see their private messages. “It’s why we don’t keep logs of who everyone’s messaging or calling. We also can’t see your shared location and we don’t share your contacts with Facebook,” said WhatsApp. It said, instead, the update includes new options people will have to message a business on WhatsApp.
CAIT has also prayed that Union of India must frame guidelines to govern big technology companies like WhatsApp and frame policies which would protect the privacy of citizens and businesses.
The day’s highlights:
Court remarked that if users feel WhatsApp will comprise their data, they can delete it.
Court said several other platforms including Google Maps also share data.
Counsel appearing for WhatsApp, Facebook submitted that private WhatsApp chats were encrypted.
They said the petition itself is not maintainable.
Court deferred hearing in the petition till January 25.
CAIT, which represents 70 million traders, has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the policy.