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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Don’t use WhatsApp if insecure: Delhi HC

“This is a private app. Don’t join it,” said Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, addressing the petitioner’s counsel. “If you feel WhatsApp is likely to compromise with your data, delete WhatsApp and go to some other application which is available. What is the problem?”

Written by Sofi Ahsan | New Delhi |
January 19, 2021 1:30:13 am
delhi hc, farmers protest, farmers republic day violence, farmer missing, indian express newsThe division bench directed police to find the whereabouts of Bajinder and listed the case for hearing on Tuesday. (File)

THE DELHI High Court on Monday said that a person can leave WhatsApp if they feel the messaging application was likely to compromise their data. The court was hearing a petition challenging the Facebook-owned platform’s new privacy policy. Following a global backlash, WhatsApp last week announced that it was delaying the implementation of its new policy until May.

“This is a private app. Don’t join it,” said Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, addressing the petitioner’s counsel. “If you feel WhatsApp is likely to compromise with your data, delete WhatsApp and go to some other application which is available. What is the problem?”

The court declined to immediately issue notice in the case, and deferred the hearing of the matter to January 25.

Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, while agreeing with the court, said the petition needed to be analysed. “It will require some determination,” Sharma submitted.

The court told the counsel for petitioner: “I doubt if you have read the terms and conditions of any mobile application that you have installed. If you would have, you will be shocked and surprised as to what all you consent to, and it is a voluntary thing. Don’t accept it”.

The petition, filed by lawyer Chaitanya Rohilla through advocate Manohar Lal, sought an immediate injunction against the updated privacy policy, and a direction to the Centre to lay down guidelines to ensure WhatsApp does not share user data with any third party, or Facebook and its companies, for any purpose.

Lal submitted there were privacy concerns with regard to the new policy. Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing WhatsApp, submitted that the new policy was yet to be launched, and there was no question of the data being compromised.

When Lal submitted that the application analyses users’ behaviour, the court said all applications — and not just WhatsApp — do that. “Do you use Google Maps? Do you know it (also) captures and shares your data?” the court asked.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who represents Facebook in the matter, argued there was a hullabaloo about nothing, and that WhatsApp had repeatedly said messages on the platform were end-to-end encrypted. “Even WhatsApp can’t read it and WhatsApp can’t store it. So it is completely safe and the policy is the same which was there for the last five years. It is still the same,” he said.

Rohatgi submitted that the change has been made only with regard to WhatsApp Business, which is completely different from private chats, which are completely encrypted. Sibal added that users have the option to engage with a businesses using Facebook services at their discretion.

“It is optional for the user, and users always have the choice whether to use products offered by WhatsApp or Facebook,” Sibal told the court, adding the petition was not maintainable.

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