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Supreme Court’s take on WhatsApp regarding its privacy policy: Issues notice to Facebook and WhatsApp

On Monday, the apex court issued notice to the Center and the Facebook-owned company about its privacy policy that was rolled out in January this year.

“You (WhatsApp) maybe two or three trillion-dollar company. But people value their privacy. It is our duty, and we have to protect people’s privacy,” said the bench led by Chief Justice of India, Sharad A Bobde.

The public concerns over WhatsApp’s new privacy policy that particularly applies to the Indian masses have been a subject of conflict for the past two months. Moreover, the policy doesn’t apply to the European countries because of its stricter laws.

This issue of unfairness has been raised to the Supreme Court, wherein Karmanya Singh Sareen’s plea made in 2016 was taken into consideration.

The Supreme Court said that people have grave apprehensions that they will lose their privacy, and it is our duty to protect them. According to the petition, the apex court is required to order WhatsApp to halt the implementation of the new policy until the Government regulates a data protection law or till the Constitutional bench makes a decision.

The bench further mentioned that there is a concern that Whatsapp reveals a circuit of messages and that citizens are concerned that their chats and data will be shared with its parent company – Facebook. Representing the petition, advocate Shyam Divan emphasized that Indian users are being treated unfairly as WhatsApp has a different privacy regime for European users.

These allegations were denied by the senior advocate of WhatsApp, Kapil Sibal, saying that the same privacy policy applies to all countries except European nations, which have special data protection laws.

As a counterpart, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, “Regardless of whether there is a law or not, the right to privacy is part of fundamental rights. They (WhatsApp) must protect the right to privacy. They must not share data.”

The apex court has given the period of four weeks to the Government and WhatsApp and Facebook for the next hearing.

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