“You May Be A Trillion Dollar Company But…”: SC To WhatsApp

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The Supreme Court today told social media firm Facebook and its messaging app, WhatsApp, that it will have to intervene to protect people’s privacy in the wake of the latter’s new policy in this regard. Issuing a notice to the Centre, along with the two platforms, the court is now set examine the popular service’s fresh course on this front.

In January, WhatsApp renewed its terms of service and privacy policy, which were to come into effect on February 8. According to it, users must agree to its new data sharing norms, which includes business conversations, with Facebook. Since this is not optional, users have been left confused and concerned over privacy.

“You (Facebook and WhatsApp) may be two or three trillion (dollar) company. But people value their privacy. It is our duty and we have to protect people’s privacy,” the Supreme Court said today.

“People have great apprehension over loss of privacy,” Chief Justice of India Sharad A Bobde said. “People think that if somebody messages to someone then…the whole thing is disclosed to Facebook.”

Both Facebook and WhatsApp, through their counsel Kapil Sibal and Arvind datar, respectively, told the court that such fears were not based in reality.

The court was hearing a plea by one Karmanya Singh Sareen and others seeking a stay on WhatsApp’s new privacy policy. Their lawyer, Shyam Diwan, told the court that WhatsApp was differentiating between European countries and India in its policy.

Senior Advocate Sibal, however, said, “This policy is applicable to rest of the world, except Europe. Europe has a special law and we will follow that law. Once there is a law here we will follow that.”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta then told the court whether there was a law or not, privacy must be protected as it was a fundamental right. He also said the court’s apprehension over data was shared by the nation.

The court will now take up the case for hearing after four weeks.

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