‘Privacy More Imp Than Money’: SC Issues Notice in WhatsApp Case
Earlier, WhatsApp had given users time till 8 Feb to either accept its updated policy or be unable to use the app.
According to the LiveLaw report, the CJI observed that people have grave concerns about their right to privacy with respect to Whatsapp's new policy.
Following the hearing, the Constitutional Bench directed the company to explain its stance by filing a counter affidavit within four weeks, on the application that was filed by the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF).
Announced on 5 January, WhatsApp had initially given its 2 billion users across the world time till 8 February, to accept its updated policy or be unable to use the app. That has been postponed by three months now, to 15 May.
The instant application was filed in 2017 by IFF, Karmanya Singh Sareen and Anr vs Union of India and Ors, raising privacy concerns following the merger of Facebook and WhatsApp, as well as its 2016 privacy update.
In January 2017, the Supreme Court had referred the Facebook-WhatsApp privacy case to a five-judge bench.
Advocate Shyam Divan, appearing as the petitioner of IFF, submitted before the Supreme Court that Whatsapp is discriminating between its Indian and European users.
According to LivLaw, Diwan argued, "One set of privacy standards apply to Europe and a different set of standards apply to Indians...There is a huge differentiation between Europeans and Indians."
He urged the court to make sure that WhatsApp does not use ‘lower privacy standards’ for Indian users when compared to Europeans. He also urged that till the Personal Data Protection law comes into force, WhatsApp should not be allowed to share data with Facebook or any third party.
‘Privacy More Important Than Money’
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Arvind Datar, appearing for WhatsApp, argued that no differential treatment is being meted out to Indian users. They submitted that the same policy is applicable across the world and a separate policy has been framed only for Europe, given their data privacy law—the GDPR.
According to the LiveLaw report Datar added, "Europe has a special law, the GDPR, which is applicable to about 27 countries and that is why there is a special law.”
The CJI however observed, "We are impressed with Divan's submission that while the Data Protection Bill is about to be brought into force, you (Whatsapp) are framing a policy to share data."
He said that people are very concerned about their privacy and it is a general belief that their messages can be shared with Facebook.
“You must understand Mr Datar, people have grave concerns about their privacy. You may be 2 trillion 3 trillion company. But the privacy of people is more important than your money.”CJI SA Bobde
SC To Decide on Other Plea on WhatsApp Before Delhi HC
A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde observed that this issue is already being heard by the Delhi High Court and the petitioner can choose the suitable remedy.
The bench, also comprising justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, was hearing a plea filed by Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which had sought a direction to the Centre to intervene in the matter and frame guidelines to govern big-tech companies such as WhatsApp Inc, Facebook Inc, and Facebook India.
(With inputs from LiveLaw)
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