A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra issued notice to the Centre on a plea by two users of the most popular instant messaging service, alleging that WhatsApp, Facebook Inc and Facebook India Online Pvt Ltd’s new private policy “compromises the rights of its users”.
Taking note of the concern by petitioners Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi, the high court wished to examine the issue and asked the concerned authorities to file their reply by 14 September.
The new policy, which is likely to come into force from 25 September, has sought to change the “most valuable, basic and essential feature” of WhatsApp, which commenced operations in 2010, by “unilaterally threatening to take away the protection to privacy of details and 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 Sandeep Sethi and Pratibha M Singh, appearing for the petitioners, submitted before the court that it is a “very serious breach of policy”.
“The manner in which so-called consent is sought to be taken is highly deceptive in as much as almost the entire community of users of WhatsApp in India are not equipped to even read, much less comprehend, the consequences of the terms and conditions on the basis whereupon, WhatsApp is pretending to obtain consent of the users,” the plea filed by advocate Tanoodbhav Singhdev said.