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SC tells WhatsApp “people value their privacy” hearing its new data sharing policy

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: The Supreme Court while hearing WhatsApp’s new data sharing policy plea on Monday told the messaging app and its mother firm, Facebook, that it will have to intervene to protect people’s privacy even if they are trillion dollar companies.

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Issuing a notice to the Centre, along with the two social media platforms, the apex court is now set examine the popular service’s fresh course on this front.

In January, the WhatsApp reportedly renewed its terms of service and privacy policy, according to which users must agree to its new data sharing norms, which includes business conversations, with Facebook. Since this is not optional, users are left confused and concerned over privacy. This new privacy was to come into effect on February 8.

“You (Facebook and WhatsApp) may be two or three trillion (dollar) company. But people value their privacy. It is our duty and we have to protect people’s privacy,” the top Court said on Monday.

“People have great apprehension over loss of privacy,” Chief Justice of India Sharad A Bobde said adding, “People think that if somebody messages to someone then…the whole thing is disclosed to Facebook.”

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However, both Facebook and WhatsApp, through their counsel Kapil Sibal and Arvind Datar, respectively, told the SC Judges-bench that such fears were not based in reality.

The plea was filed by a girl Karmanya Singh Sareen and others who in their petition sought a stay on WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, while their lawyer, Shyam Diwan, told the court that WhatsApp was differentiating between European countries and India in its policy.

Senior Advocate Sibal, however, said, “This policy is applicable to rest of the world, except Europe. Europe has a special law and we will follow that law. Once there is a law here we will follow that.”

Replying to Advocate Sibal’s assertion, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta then told the court whether there was a law or not, privacy must be protected as it was a fundamental right. He also said the court’s apprehension over data was shared by the nation.

The next hearing of this case court will be after four weeks.

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