Making a submission on behalf of WhatsApp, senior advocate Harish Salve said, “Government has asked to shut down the policy. We have said we will not enforce it till Data Protection Bill comes out. That is open-ended because we don’t know when the Bill is going to come out … We have said we will not do this for a while. Suppose the Bill allows me to do it, we will have completely different ramifications."
“We voluntarily agreed to put it (the new policy) on hold… we will not compel people to accept," he said.
Further, WhatsApp issued a statement after the hearing, saying, “We will not limit functionality of how WhatsApp works in the coming weeks. Instead, we will continue to remind users from time to time about the update… we will maintain this approach until at least the forthcoming PDP law comes into effect."
WhatsApp has repeatedly said that its messaging app is end-to-end encrypted, it cannot access your private chats or location and the company does not share private messages or any other data with Facebook. End-to-end encryption was designed to help ensure that nobody other than the person you are talking to can know that you sent a particular message.
However, the new policy update will enable WhatsApp to use some of the “business conversations” hosted with the social network for advertising. Only “when you communicate with a business by phone, email, or WhatsApp, it can see what you’re saying and may use that information for its own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook,” the company has said.
The messaging app said it will “clearly label conversations with businesses that are choosing to use hosting services from Facebook.” “Messaging with businesses is different than messaging with your family or friends,” WhatsApp added.
Why the Uproar?
WhatsApp, opposing the contention, said it was conforming to Indian IT law and rules and added that its policy has come into effect from May 15, but it won’t be deleting accounts right away.
WhatsApp has said its policy update does not change the privacy of people’s personal messages and that its purpose is to provide additional information about how people can interact with businesses if they choose to do so. We hope this approach reinforces the choice that all users have whether or not they want to interact with a business. We will maintain this approach until at least the forthcoming PDP law comes into effect, a WhatsApp spokesperson said in an emailed statement earlier.