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'No urgency needed': Delhi high court on pleas challenging WhatsApp's privacy policy

A two-judge bench of the high court on Thursday fixed August 27 as the date on which it will take up the pleas.
WhatsApp (Representational photo/Bloomberg)
Published on Jul 22, 2021 03:18 PM IST
Written by Karan Manral, New Delhi

The Delhi high court on Thursday remarked "there is no urgency now" on pleas challenging WhatsApp's privacy policy as the Facebook-owned messaging platform has already informed the high court it "would not transfer data" to Facebook till India enacts the proposed data protection law. A two-judge bench, comprising chief justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, also recalled WhatsApp's statement to it on July 9 clarifying it won't block accounts of those not accepting its privacy policy "for the time being."

Also Read: WhatsApp will put policy on hold till data law is enacted

"We said we will not block," senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for WhatsApp, reiterated during Thursday's hearing. However, senior advocate Vivek Sood, appearing for one of the petitioners, Harsha Gupta, argued the data can still be transferred according to the pre-2021 policy, calling for WhatsApp to make a statement stating it will not transfer the data.

Advocate Manohar Lal, who appeared for the first petitioner, Chaitanya Rohilla, submitted to the court his client's concern did not pertain to the personal messages sent using the platform, but the meta data that is shared with Facebook. Meghan, a co-petitioner with two other persons, also raised issues with respect to privacy.


"All right, we're considering. There's no use of WhatsApp making statement again and against," the chief justice-headed bench observed, fixing August 27 as the date on which it will hear the pleas challenging the privacy policy.

The high court, on July 9, had heard WhatsApp's plea challenging a probe into its privacy policy by the Competition Commission of India (CCI). During that hearing, senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for WhatsApp, had submitted on behalf of its client, "Commitment is that I will do nothing till the Parliament's law comes in. If they allow it, I will have it. Either we fit or we don't."

The pleas challenging the privacy policy claim it allows WhatsApp "full access" into a user's online activity without there being any supervision by the government. The charge has been dismissed by the messaging platform which has said "personal messages continue to be protected by end-to-end encryption."

The proposed Data Protection Bill, meanwhile, seeks to regulate the use of an individual data by the government and private companies. A joint parliamentary committee is examining the bill, and has been given time till the ongoing monsoon session to submit its report.

(With PTI inputs)

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