Govt Wants To Stop WhatsApp From Implementing Their New Privacy Policy: Will Delhi HC Act Now?

WhatsApp had previously, in the light of drama revolving about privacy and data sharing, announced about its new privacy policy and terms of service which shall come to effect from May 15. However, the Centre has urged the Delhi High Court to restrain the messaging platform to do so.

Petition Against New Privacy Policy

A petition was filed by Seema Singh, Meghan and Vikram Singh contending that there are “fissures” in Indian data protection and privacy laws.

The matter has been listed to be heard on April 20 by a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh.

In the affidavit the centre said that from February 8, 2021 or any subsequent date pending adjudication by the court, WhatsApp may be restrained from implementing its new privacy policy.

The company collects a lot of data in the course of its business. A host of obligations are imposed by IT Rules.

The responsibility to introduce a regime on data protection and privacy has been given to the centre by the Supreme Court.

The affidavit, filed through advocate Kirtiman Singh, reds that the upon the enactment of Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 in the Lok Sabha by Union, with the help of a robust regime on data protection entities like WhatsApp or any other may not be able to issue privacy policies which do not align with appropriate standards of security and data protection.

It also said that any privacy policy issued by a ‘body corporate’ such as WhatsApp must comply with the rules under the Information Technology Act, 2000.

In the issue noticed to the centre and WhatsApp on February 3, replies were sought by high court for the petition challenging the social networking platform’s new privacy policy.

The right to privacy is violated by the new policy of WhatsApp, is another petition filed in the month of January. This petition is pending before another bench of the high court.

Also, directions are being sought by these petitioners from the ministry and WhatsApp to have the option of opting out of sharing their personal data with its parent firm Facebook and its other companies.

This is not just restricted to the messaging giant, direction is being sought ministry to frame guidelines, regulation or rules for safeguarding the privacy of the citizens from all the apps and organizations which collect user data.

WhatsApp this time in its privacy policy has given a timeline to opt for or opt out of the same. Only this time, those who would not opt for the policy will not be able to access the app. This is new as access to the app was never denied previously, irrespective of opting for or not for the privacy policy.

Access Denial To Indian Users But No Denial To European Users

This denial to access the app if opted against privacy policy is only for Indian users as European users have the option to opt out of the policy and they would not be denied access to the app

The petitioners are seeking direction for government to to roll back its new policy or in the alternative provide an option to the users, including those who have already agreed to it, to opt out of the same.

Also, a direction to the government to formulate social media intermediary guidelines is being sought by petitioners.

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