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WhatsApp not mandatory, don't join if T&C are not accepted: Delhi HC

The new privacy policy of WhatsApp was slated to come into effect in February but it has now been deferred till May.

January 25, 2021 / 01:49 PM IST
Representative Image

Representative Image

The Delhi High Court on January 25 said that accepting the new privacy policy of social messaging app WhatsApp was a "voluntary" thing and one can choose not to use or join that platform if one did not agree with its terms and conditions.

The Delhi HC was hearing a plea by a lawyer, challenging the new privacy policy of WhatsApp on the ground that it violates the right of privacy of individuals on January 25.

The new privacy policy of WhatsApp was slated to come into effect in February but it has now been deferred till May.

At the start of the hearing, the court reiterated what it had said on January 18 that WhatsApp was a private app and it was optional whether to download it or not. "It is not mandatory to download it. Every other app has similar terms and conditions regarding sharing of user information with others," the court said and asked why the petitioner was challenging the policy of WhatsApp.

The court observed that Whatsapp is not mandatory to download on mobile phones.

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The court also observed that the Personal Data Protection Bill was being considered by Parliament and the government was looking into issues raised in the plea.

During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma told the court that by not giving Indian users the option to opt out of sharing their data with other companies of Facebook, WhatsApp prima facie appears to be treating users with an "all or nothing approach".

"Insofar the government is concerned, while the privacy policy offered by WhatsApp to its European users specifically prohibits use of any information shared with Facebook companies for the companies' purposes, this clause is not found in the privacy policy offered to Indian citizens who form a very very substantial part of WhatsApp's user base," the ASG said.

"This differential treatment is certainly a cause of concern for the government. It is also a matter of concern for the government that Indian users are being unilaterally subjected to the changes in the privacy policy," the ASG told the court.

Sharma said the government was already looking into the issue and has sent a communication to WhatsApp seeking certain information. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for WhatsApp, told the court that the communication has been received and will be responded to.

The court, thereafter, listed the matter for hearing on March 1.

WhatsApp had earlier in January begun asking its 2 billion users worldwide to accept an update of its privacy policy if they want to keep using the popular messaging app. The new terms caused an outcry among technology experts, privacy advocates, and users and triggered a wave of defections to rival services such as Signal.

(With inputs from PTI)
Moneycontrol News
first published: Jan 25, 2021 11:58 am

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