The announcement by WhatsApp had triggered an increase in downloads of other instant messaging apps like Signal.(AFP Photo)
The announcement by WhatsApp had triggered an increase in downloads of other instant messaging apps like Signal.(AFP Photo)

Delhi high court seeks Centre's stand on plea against new WhatsApp privacy policy

The notice was issued by a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh. The high court has sought to know Centre's stand on the issue by March.
By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi
UPDATED ON MAR 19, 2021 04:11 PM IST

The Delhi high court on Wednesday issued notice to Centre and Facebook-owned WhatsApp Inc on a plea seeking direction to provide with an option to opt out of sharing their personal data with Facebook. The petition is against the new policy announced by WhatsApp which mandates sharing of personal data.

The notice was issued by a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh. The high court has sought to know Centre's stand on the issue by March.

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

Also Read: Delhi HC says ‘not mandatory to download WhatsApp on mobile’

The new privacy policy was announced by WhatsApp on January 4. It includes mandatory sharing of data with the parent company. The decision to share data was first floated in 2016, post WhatsApp’s acquisition by Facebook, but until last week, users already on the platform before the acquisition had the choice of not sharing that data. That choice no longer exists.

The move has faced massive backlash globally - especially in WhatsApp’s biggest market India where it has 400 million users - with a surge being reported in other messaging applications such as Signal and Telegram.

Faced with user protests, WhatsApp started posting status messages in India about its commitment towards maintaining privacy of its users. The company said that the backlash is due to misperceptions about the upcoming changes to its privacy policy.

The status messages read "One thing that isn't new is our commitment to your privacy," along with a reminder that "WhatsApp can't read or listen to your personal conversations as they're end-to-end encrypted."

A plea has also been filed in the Supreme Court seeking guidelines to safeguard the personal data and privacy of Indian WhatsApp users.

The plea stated that the 2021 Policy of WhatsApp is highly invasive and has been unilaterally forced upon Indian internet users. It requested the top court to direct WhatsApp to provide the same standard of privacy protections to its Indian users as it is providing to users in the European Region.

WhatsApp has, meanwhile, moved back the implementation of its updated privacy policy till May.

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