User info unavailable after account deletion: WhatsApp to HC

WhatsApp today told Delhi High Court that on deletion of user account, the information of that person is no longer retained on its servers.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Published:September 22, 2016 3:15 pm

whatsapp-security-75911Social networking platform WhatsApp today told Delhi High Court that on deletion of user account, the information of that person is no longer retained on its servers.

The submission came in response to a query by a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal as to whether user information is retained after account deletion. The social networking site’s submission was opposed by the petitioners, who have challenged WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, saying that as per the company’s affidavit user information continues to be retained for a longer period of time.

After hearing arguments on behalf of the petitioners and the social networking platform, the bench said it will “pass order” on September 23. Senior advocate Pratibha M Singh, appearing for petitioners Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi, told the court that while WhatsApp claims in its affidavit that it does not retain messages, the company has contradicted itself by saying it can keep the messages for a longer period of time to improve performance.

WhatsApp had on September 14 opposed in high court the plea alleging that privacy of its users have been threatened by a new privacy policy announced by Facebook, saying regulations were in place and the latter does not have access to any data as it provides end-to-end encryption. WhatsApp had made extensive changes to its privacy policy on August 25, the first time since it was acquired by Facebook, giving users the option of sharing their account information with the social network giant. The messaging service gave its users 30 days till September 25 to opt out of the policy.

Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for WhatsApp, had told court that there are government regulations in place and the application does not share users private messages, contents, photos or data with Facebook.

Luthra had also said that WhatsApp only shares a user’s name and the phone number with Facebook. “WhatsApp does not have access to any data as it provides end-to-end encryption”, he had said. The plea had claimed that “the privacy policy is in stark contrast to the privacy policy existing from July 7, 2012. In its first revised modification on August 25, 2016, Respondents (WhatsApp, Facebook Inc and Facebook India Online Pvt Ltd) have introduced this policy which severely compromises the rights of its users and makes the privacy rights of users completely vulnerable”.

The new policy, which comes into force from September 25, has sought to change the “most valuable, basic and essential feature” of WhatsApp, which commenced operations in 2010, by “unilaterally threatening to take away the protection to privacy of details and data of its users and sharing the same with Facebook and all its group companies including for the purpose of commercial advertising and marketing.” The plea sought direction to prohibit WhatsApp, Facebook Inc and Facebook India Online Pvt Ltd from sharing, in any manner, the details and data of every kind of subscribers with any entity, including Facebook or its family of companies.