Published: Tue, January 17, 2017
Technology | By Ramiro Moody

Supreme Court seeks Centre, TRAI reply over WhatsApp privacy policy

Supreme Court seeks Centre, TRAI reply over WhatsApp privacy policy

The high court also said that WhatsApp will delete users' data up to September 25, 2016.

The Supreme Court today sought the central government's response on a plea filed to put in place regulations to protect the privacy of the messages of WhatsApp and Facebook users.

The Supreme Court of India has sent notices to the Narendra Modi government, its telecom regulator and two prominent social media companies Facebook and WhatsApp. The bench sought the assistance of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi in hearing the plea, which alleged that the social networking sites compromise the privacy of interpersonal communication of over 150 million people in the country.

Salve carefully invoked the citizen's right to speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 and right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution and said free messaging, call or video call services provided by WhatsApp had become a public utility service. "It is a facility extended to you free of cost, take it or leave it", it said.

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The High Court had further directed that WhatsApp would completely delete all data of users who chooses to opt out of the instant messaging app after the coming into force of its new privacy policy.

Chief Justice Khehar asked the petitioner why WhatsApp, a private company, should protect the privacy of a user. WhatsApp had then just announced its intention to share the phone numbers and status information of its user base with Facebook to "improve experience across services" and "fight spam and abuse".

Salve also pointed out that TRAI policy dictates that intercepting calls without permission from the government is illegal, but the authority isn't doing anything in WhatsApp's case.

Trai, WhatsApp and Facebook India will have to submit their views within two weeks.

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