WhatsApp Users Not Happy With Privacy Policy May Leave, Says Facebook; We Will Regulate OTTs, Says Govt


Facebook WhatsApp integration

The ongoing case at Supreme Court regarding WhatsApp users’ privacy and their legal standing is turning out quite interesting.

In fact, the arguments put forth by the lawyers from both the sides, and Govt. of India, can prove to be a case study, when it comes to understanding legal loopholes regarding Indian citizens, and the workings of OTT players such as WhatsApp and others.

The trial is regarding a case filed by students Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi, who had challenged WhatsApp’s U-turn regarding protection of users’ privacy, and their consent for allowing their data’s usage.

Facebook: Not Happy With Privacy Policy? Quit WhatsApp!

In a direct, and blunt stand, Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, has asked all users to quit using WhatsApp, if they are not happy with their privacy policy.

This is a shocking, and some extent, an arrogant stand taken by Facebook.

Counsel K K Venugopal, who is representing Facebook, said, “Those who find the new privacy policy irksome or violative of their fundamental rights, can quit. We’ve given full freedom to users to withdraw from Facebook and WhatsApp.”

Meanwhile Senior Lawyer Kapil Sibal, who is representing WhatsApp, was more diplomatic in arguments. First he convinced the bench that WhatsApp is executing end-to-end encryption for every conversation happening on WhatsApp, which means that even WhatsApp cannot snoop in and read the content.

And then, he argued that since the privacy policy and legal agreement between WhatsApp and their users are in private domain, Supreme Court has no legal right to test its validity constitutionally.

Or in other words, there is nothing which Indian Judiciary can do, when it comes to legally examining the privacy policy of WhatsApp.

If closely examined, both Facebook and WhatsApp are pointing to one single fact: The users are free to leave their platform, if they want to.

Advocate Harish Salve, who is representing the petitioners, said, “They claim that this is being done to improve services to be given in future to users. Whether the snooping is done electronically or manually, the right to privacy of users gets breached. The government is duty bound to protect the fundamental right of every citizen. If it is failing, then the SC can surely issue appropriate directions..”

Government of India: We Will Regulate OTTs

Meanwhile, Govt. of India has restated their determination to regulate OTT players, and form regulations to check their activities.

Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who is representing Govt. of India in this case, said that Centre is committed to safeguard fundamental rights of every citizen, and they will soon announce a regulatory framework to regulate OTTs.

Earlier this month, while arguing in this same case, Govt. had said that they will form regulations for OTT players operating in India.

Next hearing on this case would be happening on May 15th.

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