India’s Supreme Court issues notice to WhatsApp, Facebook

Hacking software used Facebook’s WhatsApp to take over users’ phones, say sources. PHOTO: REUTERS. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

NEW DELHI, Feb 15, 2021, India Today. The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to social media companies WhatsApp and its parent company Facebook in connection with a plea challenging the company’s new privacy policy. The plea filed seeks a stay on the operation of the new WhatsApp privacy policy, India Today reported.

The SC bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde, sought responses from both WhatsApp and Facebook. The SC bench of SA Bobde, AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, added that it will have to intervene to protect the privacy of people if the new WhatsApp privacy policy is introduced.

The top court has also issued a notice to the central government in connection with the matter. The bench further said that Indian citizens have apprehensions regarding the privacy concerns with respect to the WhatsApp’s new privacy policy.

“You (Facebook and WhatsApp) may be a $2-3 trillion company, but people value their privacy more than money,” SC told Facebook and WhatsApp while issuing the notice.

WhatsApp had earlier announced that it would bring a new privacy policy and implement it from February 5. But after the government’s notice, the date was extended to May 14. It is worth mentioning that WhatsApp’s new privacy policy is different for India and Europe.

Senior counsel Shyam Divan appearing for the petitioner in the case alleged that WhatsApp was differentiating between Indians and Europeans in terms of privacy policy standards.

On behalf of the petitioner, Shyam Divan said that media reports indicate that the central government is taking the matter seriously. In this case, the central government has also sent a notice to WhatsApp.

Divan said that the privacy policy of WhatsApp cannot be different for India and added that the government should order WhatsApp not to implement the new privacy policy.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that no compromise will be made with privacy as it is the right of the people of the country.

Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, on behalf of WhatsApp, said that there is no threat to privacy from the policy.

However, CJI Bobde said that Facebook and WhatsApp should clarify their policy regarding data sharing. The central government, WhatsApp and Facebook have four weeks to reply in the matter.

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