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Delhi HC Finds Fault In WhatsApp’s Privacy Policy; Asks TRAI, DoT To Respond!

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While hearing a plea against WhatsApp, Delhi High Court has found fault in the new policy policy, according to which, users’ private information would be shared with Facebook.

Taking a serious note of the issue, Delhi HC has ordered TRAI and DoT to respond by September 14th.

The bench, headed by Chief Justice G. Rohini and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal have expressed grave concern on the issue of compromising user’s privacy, as they directed Central Govt., which controls TRAI and DoT, to respond to the plea.

Last month, when WhatsApp updated their privacy policy, and informed that from now on, users’ phone numbers and other basic details would be shared with Facebook, two youths had filed a petition in Delhi HC against this decision.

This recent order by Delhi HC is in response to the petition by Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi, who had basically questioned the reason behind WhatsApp’s sudden u-turn in privacy matters, and the way users’ consent was being taken.

The petition stated that WhatsApp is “unilaterally threatening to take away the protection to privacy of …data of its users and sharing the same with Facebook and all its group companies including for the purpose of commercial advertising and marketing.”

Senior advocates Pratibha M Singh and Sandeep Sethi, who are representing these two students who filed the case against WhatsApp, said that the changes incorporated by WhatsApp is a ‘serious breach of policy and trust’.

Now, as Delhi HC has found the fault, and in a way accepted that WhatsApp is trying to compromise their users’ privacy by sharing their details with a third party, it would be interesting to observe how TRAI and DoT react to the petition.

As per the updated policy, which would be implemented from September 25th, WhatsApp can now collect the following information: profile photo of the user, current online status, status message, last seen status, email address, device data, location data. Besides, third party services integrated into the user’s WhatsApp profile would also be shared.

But WhatsApp’s New Privacy Policy Is Legal?

As per cyber law experts, although WhatsApp’s new privacy policy regarding advertisements and sharing of information is unfair, it’s perfectly legal.

Taking a consent before changing any policy is accepted as a legal way to introduce any modification in the policy.

However, the only weak issue, from the point of view of WhatsApp, is the way consent is being taken. All WhatsApp did was publish a blog announcing the change, and putting a link to the section where users can opt out. Although legal, the very method can be challenged in court.

In response, WhatsApp can announce the same via their home screen as well, which will remove all unfair practice allegations, and stop any court from taking any legal action.

All eyes are now set on TRAI and DoT, as their response to the petition will hold the key to WhatsApp’s future in India.

We will keep you updated as more details come in..

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