WhatsApp’s Privacy Fight In Indian Courts
Presently, there are several petitions pending before the Supreme Court of India and Delhi High Court against WhatsApp’s privacy policies.
Petitions Complain Of Differential Treatment
The second case before the Delhi High Court is a writ petition filed by a lawyer Chaitnaya Rohilla. This one has accused WhatsApp of making a mockery of the fundamental right to privacy while discharging a public function. The petitioner also said the policy had the potential to jeopardize national security as it allows user data to be stored outside India. The petition has come up before a single-judge bench of the high court but no notice has been issued on this one.
WhatsApp Defends Its Privacy Standards
Facebook and Whatsapp have consistently taken the stance that the January policy does not compromise any personal data of the users.
The company also said its policy in Europe is different than other countries because of different laws on privacy. But the policy for Indian users is similar to the rest of the world.
Arguing for the company, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal told the apex court this week there are no differential standards. “My learned friend said WhatsApp is differentiating between India and Europe. The fact is that this policy is applicable to the rest of the world except Europe. Same policy is in the U.S., Australia etc.,” Sibal was quoted as saying by LiveLaw. “In Europe it’s different because they have a special law.”
“If India has a similar law then we shall follow it,” WhatsApp told the apex court. The company also pointed out the number of petitions being filed on the issue and told the top court that it is willing to submit its assurances through an affidavit.
Government Says The Issue Is Of Public Importance
In the high court, Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma pointed out that the company is following an “all or nothing’’ approach for its users in India and the government is looking into the issue.
In the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for the central government and told the court that the right to privacy is a fundamental right and it cannot be infringed upon irrespective of whether there is a specific law for it or not.
The Supreme Court will now take up the case after four weeks. The PIL before the division bench of the Delhi High Court will come up for hearing on March 19.