The move has faced massive backlash globally -- especially in WhatsApp’s biggest market India where it has 400 million users -- with people en masse defecting to other messaging applications such as Signal and Telegram.(AP)
The move has faced massive backlash globally -- especially in WhatsApp’s biggest market India where it has 400 million users -- with people en masse defecting to other messaging applications such as Signal and Telegram.(AP)

Plea in HC says new WhatsApp policy violates right to privacy

The new privacy policy, which was rolled out by WhatsApp, owned by Facebook Inc, on January 4, includes mandatory sharing of data with the parent company.
By Richa banka
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 06:24 AM IST

New Delhi: A Delhi-based advocate has filed a petition in the Delhi high court, challenging WhatsApp’s new privacy policy and arguing that it violates the right to privacy and jeopardises national security. The plea is scheduled to be head by the court on Friday.

The new privacy policy, which was rolled out by WhatsApp, owned by Facebook Inc, on January 4, 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 people en masse defecting to other messaging applications such as Signal and Telegram.

In his petition, advocate Chaitanya Rohilla alleged that WhatsApp hangs a “damocles sword” over its users by asking them to accept the policy by February 8. He also says that the norms hurt national security by sharing, transmitting and storing user data in another country.

“WhatsApp has made a mockery out of our fundamental right to privacy while discharging a public function in India, besides jeopardizing the national security of the country by sharing, transmitting and storing the users data in some another country. There remains a possibility that that foreign country might be a hostile country to India,” the petition read.

“It virtually gives a 360-degree profile into a person’s online activity...WhatsApp has made a mockery out of our fundamental right to privacy,” added the petition.

Rohilla, through his counsel Manohar Lal, contended that the policy took away the choice to not share data with other Facebook-owned and third-party apps.

“This type of arbitrary behaviour and browbeating cannot be accepted in a democracy and is completely ‘ultra vires’ (beyond its powers) and against the fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution of India,” the petition read.

WhatsApp has previously said the policy update did not affect privacy of messages with friends and family, as group chats are encrypted and the changes only relate to interactions with businesses

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP