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PIL in Delhi HC over WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, alleges threat to national security; hearing on Jan 18

Friday, 15 January 2021 (18:30 IST)
New Delhi: A single judge bench of Delhi High Court on Friday recused from hearing a plea against Whatsapp-- the Facebook-owned instant messaging service-- for its updated privacy policy, in which the petitioner stated of “taking away the choice of users” not to share their data with third-party apps related with the two social media giants.

The single judge bench of Justice Pratibha M. Singh directed the petition filed by lawyer Chaitanya Rohilla through his counsel Manohar Lal, for hearing in another bench on January 18.

“Let the matter be treated as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL)”, the bench asserted.

In his plea, Rohilla said that the new WhatsApp privacy policy which will come into effect from February 8, 2021, “virtually gives a 360-degree profile into a person’s online activity.”

The petitioner also pointed out the official use of the instant messaging service stating, “WhatsApp is discharging a Public Function despite being a private entity. In the prevalent Covid-19 pandemic times, confidential proceedings, such as that of the mediations, are being conducted by WhatsApp. For instance, the District Legal Services Authority, Mediation and Conciliation Centre, Gurugram, uses WhatsApp to conduct mediation proceedings (Video Conference) through WhatsApp.”

“WhatsApp has made a mockery out of our fundamental right to privacy while discharging a public function in India, besides jeopardizing the National Security of the country by sharing, transmitting and storing the users data in some other country and that data, in turn, will be governed by the laws of that foreign country”, it read.

The plea also prayed for a direction to the Centre to lay down guidelines in exercise of its powers under the Information Technology Act to ensure that WhatsApp does not share any user data with any third party including Facebook.

To continue using Whatsapp after its updation of privacy policy on February 8, users will have to accept the terms and conditions.

If the users do not accept the new terms of service, they will no longer be able to use the service. (UNI)

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