Privacy concerns over WhatsApp: Binding regulatory regime on data protection in works, govt to SChttps://indianexpress.com/article/business/business-others/privacy-concerns-over-whatsapp-binding-regulatory-regime-on-data-protection-in-the-works-govt-to-sc-4659317/

Privacy concerns over WhatsApp: Binding regulatory regime on data protection in works, govt to SC

Appearing for Facebook, senior counsel KK Venugopal disputed the maintainability of the petition saying there was no legal framework at present in India to deal with the issue.

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“These rules have the framework, an issue which has been raised. My submission is that the petition is not maintainable,” he said, adding that it was a matter of policy.

The BJP-led NDA government on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it was in the process of formulating a regulatory regime on data protection and that it will be binding in nature.

“The central government is committed to freedom of choice and right to privacy of citizens. This is non-negotiable and we are committed to this. We are already in the process of doing it (regulatory regime). We are in the process of making either a statutory rule or executive guidelines, which would be binding in nature, on data protection,” Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta told a bench of the apex court headed by Justice Dipak Mishra, which is hearing a petition challenging the 2016 privacy policy of WhatsApp under which it shares user data with parent company Facebook. The comments came after the bench reminded the government that it was duty-bound “to protect the (privacy) rights of citizens”.

Appearing for Facebook, senior counsel KK Venugopal disputed the maintainability of the petition saying there was no legal framework at present in India to deal with the issue. He added that most of the prayers sought by the petitioners had been covered under the 2011 rules of the Information Technology Act.

“These rules have the framework, an issue which has been raised. My submission is that the petition is not maintainable,” he said, adding that it was a matter of policy.

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The court also wondered if the instant messaging platform can impose any condition that violated any part of the Constitution on users in India.

“The issue is that you (WhatsApp) have framed a policy inviting customers for the purpose of availing the service. In that sphere, can you impose any condition which violates any part of the Constitution,” the bench asked WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014.