Supreme Court issues notice to WhatsApp on plea seeking new privacy policy

IT Rules notified by Government: Supreme Court to stop using WhatsApp to share video conference links with Lawyers

“You may be a 2 million or a trillion-dollar business, but people are worried about their privacy,” the Chief Justice of India said when giving a notice to WhatsApp in an application seeking to remain on the service of its “New Privacy Policy.” 

The applicants prayed that WhatsApp would not extend lower standards of privacy to Indians and would apply the same standards of privacy to Europeans.

“A three-judge Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justices A.S. Bopanna & V. Ramasubramanian requested “WhatsApp,” an American voice-over service messaging firm operated by Facebook, Inc. to file its reaction to the Indian Citizens’ “Privacy” petition. 

Shyam Divan, the Senior Lawyer for the Claimants, said that in terms of privacy requirements, WhatsApp discriminated between Indians and Europeans. 

Appearing for Facebook, Senior Counsel Arvind Datar argued that the current privacy policy is an entirely new cause for action.

People have serious concerns over the lack of privacy. You may be a corporation of 2 million or trillion, but individuals are worried about their privacy,’ the Chief Justice said. 

The Court was hearing the complaint submitted by Law Students Karmanya Singh Sareen & Shreya Sethi, in their pending case (Karmanya Singh Sareen & Anr. Vs Union of India Ministry of Communications Division of Telecommunications Secretary & Ors.), after WhatsApp updated its consumer policy on 4th January 2021.

The petitioners argued that the way in which WhatsApp’s current privacy policy was framed and the provisions of the new policy resulted in a significant breach of the constitutional right of privacy of Indian people who use WhatsApp on a regular basis.