Restrain WhatsApp From Implementing New Privateness Coverage, Authorities Requests Delhi Excessive Courtroom


The central government has asked the Delhi Supreme Court to prevent WhatsApp from implementing its new privacy policy.

The government said so in its response to a PIL submitted by Seema Singh and attorneys Meghan and Vikram Singh. The case is being heard by the Department of the Delhi Supreme Court under the direction of Chief Justice DN Patel.

In January of this year, WhatsApp updated its privacy policy and stated that it now reserves the right to share some user data with the broader Facebook network, which also includes Instagram. WhatsApp had asked users to agree to the new policy by February 8, but later postponed that deadline to May 15. The text for the directive is different for EU users compared to the rest of the world.

WhatsApp’s privacy policy violates IT rules, the government said

In its response to the Delhi Supreme Court, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology indicated that WhatsApp falls under the definition of “corporation” under Section 43A of the Information Technology Act. Therefore, according to the ministry, it falls under the 2011 IT rules.

A legal person within the meaning of the IT Act is a company, a company, a sole proprietorship or another association of persons who carry out commercial or professional activities.

The government says WhatsApp’s new privacy policy breaks the rules on five counts.

  • It does not specify the types of Sensitive Personal Information that will be collected: The government says the WhatsApp policy uses extremely general terms for the type of data collected and makes no distinction between personal information and sensitive personal information.

  • Users cannot be informed of details of the collection of sensitive personal information: The rules state that the user must be aware of the fact that the information is being collected and the purpose for which it is being collected; intended recipient of the information; Name and address of the agency that collects information and of the agency that holds the information. The government said none of these details will be provided. For example, the privacy policy mentions the involvement of third parties who may have access to data but fail to provide their name and other details.

  • An option to review or change information cannot be provided: According to the 2011 rules, a user can review the information they have shared and request the correction of inaccurate information. The privacy policy, the government said, is silent about such a mechanism. According to the affidavit, the ability to correct the information is limited to a user’s profile name, picture, cell phone number, and “About” section.

  • Cannot offer an option to subsequently withdraw consent: The IT rules allow the user not to give and even to revoke previous consent to share the information. If a previous consent is withdrawn, this means in the answer that the data collected earlier must be deleted. In the WhatsApp policy, a user can choose not to share any data and the service can be denied. However, this fails with the second parameter because even if a user deletes their account, a significant amount of information can be retained.

  • Does not guarantee any further confidentiality by third parties: The IT rules prohibit third parties from further sharing the information received from a corporation, and any data protection guidelines that allow this scope do not comply with the rules. According to the government, WhatsApp’s privacy policy also falls short of expectations on this parameter. The policy also includes provisions for sharing data with other Facebook companies that would be considered third parties. However, the user’s contract is only valid with WhatsApp.

The PIL from Dr. Seema Singh came to the Supreme Court hearing on Friday and will be next admitted on April 20.

WhatsApp’s privacy policy faces more than one legal challenge. Aside from Seema Singh’s petition, another plea is pending before the single judge bench of the Delhi Supreme Court. No notice has yet been published about this.

The supreme court is also dealing with the matter. It’s an application from Karmanaya Sareen, who also challenged WhatsApp’s 2016 privacy policy. The latter is currently pending with a constitutional bank of the Supreme Court. The Apex Court announced Sareen’s motion and asked for the central government’s response. A response to this petition has yet to be submitted by the government.

For its part, WhatsApp has claimed that its privacy policy does not compromise its users’ personal information in any way. It has been argued earlier that the guidelines for Indian users are the same as for the rest of the world. There is a difference for the EU because of its laws.