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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Centre urges Delhi High Court to restrain WhatsApp from implementing new privacy policy

The government said the privacy policy fails to specify the types of sensitive data being collected, provide an option to review or amend information or to withdraw consent retrospectively and guarantee further non-disclosure by third parties.

Written by Sofi Ahsan | New Delhi |
March 19, 2021 3:23:16 pm
whatsapp, instagram, facebook down, is whatsapp down, instagram outage, whatsapp not working, instagram not working, facebook messenger news, whatsapp news, indian express newsThe government had earlier sought a clarification from WhatsApp regarding the privacy policy.

The Centre urged the Delhi High Court on Friday to restrain WhatsApp from implementing its new privacy policy as a PIL, seeking a stay on the issue, is pending before the court. The Public Interest Litigation also seeks framing of guidelines to protect the privacy and data of users being collected by various social media sites and messaging apps.

The impugned privacy policy violates the 2011 IT Rules, the government said in a written reply to the court. It added that the privacy policy fails to specify the types of sensitive data being collected, provide an option to review or amend information or to withdraw consent retrospectively and guarantee further non-disclosure by third parties.

The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, in its reply, also told the court that the Centre has introduced the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, in the Lok Sabha and upon its enactment, the law “will limit the ability of entities such as WhatsApp issuing privacy policies which do not align with appropriate standards of security and data protection”.

“Pending the passage of this Bill, the Information Technology Act, 2000, and the Rules made thereunder forms the extant regime on data protection, any privacy policy issued by a body corporate such as Respondent No. 2 must comply with the requirements specified in the Act and the accompanying Rules,” the Centre wrote.

In the petition filed by a Noida-resident Dr Seema Singh along with Delhi residents Meghan and Vikram Singh, it has been argued that the fissures in law with regard to the data are “quite conspicuous” and a framework to regulate the same is the need of the hour.

“Social media in recent years has been used by billions of people around the world and millions of Indians today are dependent on WhatsApp. Therefore, information, which is generally personal, is shared at an enormous level. This information is susceptible to being misused if the social media giant decides to either sell or exploit the information, sensitive to the users, to any third party,” the petition contends.

The hearing in the case was adjourned to April 20 on Friday, advocate Meghan informed. “The mechanism to protect the citizen’s privacy in the interim has not been addressed in the counter affidavit,” he said about the reply filed by the government in the case.

Another petition challenging WhatsApp’s privacy policy is also pending before a single bench of the High Court but no notice has been issued yet in that case. The government had earlier sought a clarification from WhatsApp regarding its new privacy policy. Due to widespread criticism, WhatsApp had put the policy on hold in January. It is expected to start its implementation from May.

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