High Court: Using Whatsapp Not Mandatory In India; Don’t Join If Privacy Policy Not Accepted

Whatsapp not compulsory to be downloaded on smartphones if users do not agree to its new privacy policy: Delhi High Court.
Whatsapp not compulsory to be downloaded on smartphones if users do not agree to its new privacy policy: Delhi High Court.

Earlier in January, Whatsapp introduced its new privacy policy in India, which left many users confused.

We have covered this topic very closely. In brevity, as per Whatsapp’s new privacy policy, users are asked to agree to its new data sharing policy, which will allow them to share business conversations and data with Facebook.

Apparently, there does not seem any way to opt-out of the data sharing policy for the users, which has left them extremely worried and confused. As a result, many users have shifted to another messenger app called Signal.

Now, while hearing a plea filed by a lawyer in the Delhi High Court, regarding this new policy and submitting that it violates the right of privacy of individuals, the Delhi HC responded that joining the app is a ‘voluntary’ decision of individuals and one is free to not use/join the same, shall they not agree with its policies.

Let’s learn more on the Delhi HC hearing.

Brief Insight into the Whatsapp Issue

Instant-messaging platform Whatsapp has been the centre of reports lately, since it released its new privacy policy in the country.

These new terms have left the technology experts, privacy advocates and users extremely worried. 

According to its new policy, if a user wants to continue using the application, they would compulsorily have to accept the privacy policy.

You can read completely about this here.

Initially, Whatsapp had set this deadline date of terminating your account shall you not accept its terms, to February 8. 

However, after receiving severe backlash on the same, it has postponed this date to May 15

Whatsapp Issue Response from the Delhi HC

A lawyer filed a plea in Delhi High Court on January 25, regarding the new privacy policy of WhatsApp. He stated that the new policy violates  the right of privacy of individuals.

To this, the HC responded that accepting the new policy of Whatsapp will be a voluntary decision of individuals. He added that it would be upon one’s discretion to use the platform, shall he/she agree to the terms of the policy.

“It is not mandatory to download it. Every other app has similar terms and conditions regarding sharing of user information with others”, responded the court to the petitioner.

Personal Data Protection Bill

During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma stated that WhatsApp has left users with an ‘all or nothing approach’, as its new policy doesn’t provide Indian users with any option of opting out of sharing their data with other companies of Facebook.

He also added that the privacy policy offered by WhatsApp to its European users specifically prohibits use of any information shared with Facebook companies for the companies’ purposes.

However, this clause is not found in the privacy policy offered to Indian citizens.

“This differential treatment is certainly a cause of concern for the government. It is also a matter of concern for the government that Indian users are being unilaterally subjected to the changes in the privacy policy”, said the ASG.

The court also observed that the Personal Data Protection Bill was being considered by Parliament and the government was looking into issues raised in the plea.

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