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Indian Court Adjourns Petitions Challenging WhatsApp’s New Privacy Policy To Aug 27

The legal petitions asked the govt to direct WhatsApp to roll back the policy or let users opt-out of the update.

NEW DELHI — An Indian court adjourned the hearing of petitions challenging Facebook-owned instant messaging service WhatsApp’s new privacy policy to August 27.

A Delhi High Court bench of Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh on July 22 found no urgency in the matter and deferred the hearing for the next date.

WhatsApp’s new privacy policy announced on Jan. 4, 2021, has been surrounded by controversy ever since its release. Indian users were concerned about the company’s policy that allows some data of its business accounts to be shared with its parent company Facebook.

WhatsApp had earlier said that it will not limit functionality for users who don’t accept the update and will continue to show users updates from time to time until India’s Data Protection Bill comes into force.

WhatsApp also said it has voluntarily agreed to put the privacy update on hold in India until the Data Protection Bill becomes a law.

The Indian government even asked the company to withdraw the changes in a strongly worded letter on January 18.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions that asked the Union government to direct WhatsApp to either roll back their policy or provide an option to users on their platform to opt-out of the update.

The petition also sought direction for users who had accepted the privacy policy to be given another option to choose for themselves.

The plea sought the direction of the government to formulate Social Media Intermediary Guidelines saying WhatsApp’s privacy policy was violative of Article 21 of India’s constitution. Article 21 deals with the Right to Privacy, which is a fundamental right.

WhatsApp has repeatedly said messages on its app are protected by end-to-end encryption, adding that it doesn’t read user messages.

“Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can read your messages or hear your calls with your friends, family, and co-workers on WhatsApp,” the company said in a statement.

“Whatever you share, it stays between you. That’s because your personal messages are protected by end-to-end encryption. We will never weaken this security, and we clearly label each chat, so you know our commitment.”

The petition said that the personal data of users can be shared and used by Facebook companies as well as the third party for their commercial purposes.

“Social media in recent years has been used by billions of people around the world and millions of Indians today are dependent on WhatsApp,” the plea said.

“Therefore, the information that is generally personal is shared at an enormous level. This information is susceptible to being misused if the social media giants decide to either sell or exploit the information, sensitive to the users, to any third party.”

(With Inputs from ANI) 

(Edited by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Praveen Pramod Tewari)