Users may quit WhatsApp if they feel privacy is breached: Facebook to SC

CIOL Writers
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CIOL Users may quit Whatsapp if they feel privacy is breached: Facebook to SC

Responding to a petition filed by two Indian students over privacy concerns with Facebook-owned WhatsApp, Facebook counsel K K Venugopal told a Supreme court bench, that, “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.”.


WhatsApp counsel Kapil Sibal assured the court that messages and voice call over the platform were end-to-end encrypted which ensured complete privacy. However, he said since the contract between a user and WhatsApp was completely in the private domain, the policy could not be tested constitutionally by the SC and the petition filed by students Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi was not maintainable.

Appearing for the petitioners, Harish Salve said under the new policy, users were unwittingly made to give consent to both WhatsApp and Facebook and the latter could snoop on messages privately circulated between users of WhatsApp.

"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.

Apparently, WhatsApp and Facebook are facing similar charges elsewhere as well. In EU for example, the European Commission has also found the new policy change of Facebook having unobstructed access to data that Whatsapp collects from users, unacceptable. The company, however, is close to reaching a solution, in that case, a point made evident by EU regulator’s lead on privacy issues with Facebook, Irwin Dixon. In a statement earlier, Dixon had said, "I think we are in agreement with the parties – WhatsApp and Facebook – that the quality of the information provided to users could have been clearer, could have been more transparent and could have been expressed in simpler terms. We are working towards a solution on that."

The Supreme Court fixed May 15 for a preliminary hearing.

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