Info-tech

WhatsApp new privacy policy violates Indian IT laws, Centre tells Delhi HC

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 17, 2021

The new policy says that the users can either accept or exit the app but they cannot opt not to share their data with other Facebook-owned or third party apps

The Centre on Monday told the Delhi High Court that it views the new privacy policy of WhatsApp as a violation of the Indian Information Technology (IT) law and rules, and sought directions to the social media platform to make it clear whether it was confirming the same.

WhatsApp is introducing a new policy asking for expressed concern from users about sharing their personal data with Facebook or other third parties. The new policy says that the users can either accept or exit the app but they cannot opt not to share their data with other Facebook-owned or third party apps. The Government, on its part, said that WhasApp has failed to specify the types of personal data being collected under its new policy and does not provide the option to even review information being shared.

The central government’s claim was made before a bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh during hearing of several pleas challenging WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, which according to the platform has come into effect from May 15.

WhatsApp told the bench that while its new privacy policy is in place, it would not start deleting accounts of those users who have not accepted it and would try to encourage them to get on board. The platform said there was no universal or uniform time limit after which it will start to delete accounts as each user would be dealt with on a case-to-case basis. The bench issued notice to the Centre, Facebook and WhatsApp and sought their stand on one of the pleas by a lawyer who has claimed that the new policy violates users’ right to privacy under the Constitution.

During the hearing, the Centre said that according to it the policy was in violation of Indian IT laws and rules.

It said it has written to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the issue and a reply is awaited and therefore, there was a need to maintain status quo with regard to implementation of the policy. WhatsApp, opposing the contention, said it was conforming to Indian IT law and rules.

When the matter was initially listed before a single judge, the Centre had said that WhatsApp was treating Indian users differently from Europeans over opting out of its new privacy policy which was a matter of concern for the government and it was looking into the issue.

Published on May 17, 2021

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