Delhi HC Seeks Centre’s Response on PIL Against New WhatsApp Privacy Policy

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought response from the Centre on a plea challenging the new privacy policy of social networking platform WhatsApp. A Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notice to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and WhatsApp seeking their stand on the plea by March.

The petitioners, Seema Singh and Meghan Singh, have contended the new privacy policy indicates the “fissures” in Indian data protection and privacy laws.

Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma said the Centre has sent out questionnaires to WhatsApp on various issues seeking answers. He also said a joint parliamentary committee is looking into the matter.

The original PIL says, “Social media in recent years has been used by billions of people around the world and millions of Indians today are dependent on WhatsApp. Therefore information which is generally personal is shared at an enormous level. This information is susceptible to being misused if the social media giant decides to either sell or exploit the information, sensitive to the users, to any third party.”

In its submission, Facebook, the company that owns WhatsApp, had earlier said: “There’s a hullabaloo about nothing. WhatsApp has constantly said the messages are encrypted and even WhatsApp can’t read it. We have only made change with regard to Business WhatsApp.”

This is the second petition challenging the new privacy policy.

Earlier, law student Chaitanya Rohilla had challenged the new privacy policy which has now been pushed to May after backlash on its terms and conditions. Earlier, WhatsApp had made it mandatory for the users to accept the new conditions by February 8.

The court, while hearing Rohilla’s plea, had said WhatsApp is a private application and it is not mandatory for people to download it if they had problems with its new policy. The matter is likely to be heard on March 1.

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