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WhatsApp Cannot Apply Different Standards of Data Protection in India: SC

The court said WhatsApp could not violate Indian laws to widen the language of the social media application’s policy

Utkarsh Anand |

Updated:May 16, 2017, 3:43 PM IST
WhatsApp Cannot Apply Different Standards of Data Protection in India: SC
WhatsApp is the most popular messaging service in India

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday slammed WhatsApp on its privacy policy, saying that the court was the authority on data protection here.

A Constitution Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra questioned the tenor of the 2016 user license policy by WhatsApp, wondering if the company was trying to belittle right of free communication for Indian users.

We the data protection authority here. You can't violate Indian laws only to widen the language of your policy...will protect rights of our citizens to communicate freely," said the Bench.

Notably, there is no specific law on data protection or right to privacy in India.

The court further observed: "It is our constitutional duty to protect citizens' rights. We don't think any person would want all his data shared with others. You can't apply different standards of data protection in India."

It then asked the counsel for WhatsApp whether it had given an undertaking before a court in the European Union for not sharing users' data with anyone. The lawyer replied that there has, indeed, been an interim order of this nature by an international tribunal and the company has filed an appeal against this order.

"So why shouldn't we also do it here?", asked the Bench, adding it would consider passing an interim order asking WhatsApp not to share any data until the case ia decided by the apex court

"Interim orders are not usually passed by Constitution Benches but we will consider doing it in this case," added the court.

The petitioner in the case had contended that under the new policy of WhatsApp, the online messaging service could access, read, share and use the contents for commercial purposes.

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| Edited by: Aditya Nair
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