Supreme Court seeks response from Whatsapp and Facebook on their policies

Supreme Court seeks response from Whatsapp and Facebook on their policies
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from Government and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on a plea seeking a privacy policy of bringing in social media platforms like Whatsapp and Facebook under government rules and regulations and stop its commercial exploitation.

The court also issued notice to Whatsapp and Facebook and sought their response in two week time.

Two law students, petitioners Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Singhal contended that under the new policy of WhatsApp , the online messaging service could access, read, share and use the contents for commercial purpose.

A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud while hearing the appeal against the Delhi High Court ruling said, “You can choose to walk out of WhatsApp if you want to protect your privacy.”

Senior advocate Harish Salve appearing for the petitioners told the bench that, “WhatsApp has become an instant messaging and call service with 155 million users and is more of a public utility service like telephone calls.”

Countering Salve, the bench said, “Why can’t you choose the option of not availing this service, if you want to protect your privacy.”

Delhi High Court in its order last year had uphold the whatsapp’s 2016 policy to share user information with Facebook as a violation of citizen privacy.

The students had argued that the new policy would result in changing the most valuable feature of WhatsApp privacy of details and data of its users. They had demanded an option of do not share for users who did not wish to share information with Facebook.

Salve told the bench, “It was the duty of the government to protect people’s rights under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution and safeguard their privacy. The Telecom Regulatory of India says that interception of calls without government’s order is an illegality. Here, TRAI is doing nothing.”

However, the court post the matter for hearing in summer vacations at length and told senior advocate Harish Salve to argue the case himself.

The bench also sought Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s help in the case.

The High Court had late last year upheld WhatsApp new privacy policy on sharing of users’ information with Facebook effective from September 25 while directing the instant messaging app to “delete completely” from its server information/ data/ details of all users who choose to delete their account.

Author is Famous Technology and Automobile Journalist worked with esteemed Daily News Papers.

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