Representational Image
Representational Image

New Delhi: Deferring a plea against the new privacy policy of WhatsApp messaging application, Delhi High Court's Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva observed on Monday, "WhatsApp is a private app, if you think it compromises your privacy, then don’t join it."

He was hearing a PIL filed by a practising advocate who has assailed the new WhatsApp policy on privacy which gives it full access to a user's online activity without there being any supervision by the government.

Under the new policy, users can either accept it or exit the app, but they cannot opt not to share their data with other Facebook-owned or third party apps. The lawyer appearing for the petitioner claimed that the option not to agree with the new policy was given to users in European nations, but not in India.

During the course of hearing, the court also said that if the terms and conditions of most mobile apps are read, "you would be surprised as to what all you are consenting to". "Even Google maps captures all your data and stores it," the court observed.

During the hearing, counsel for WhatsApp and its parent company Facebook Inc defended the new policy and said it anyway has not even been implemented yet. "All this hullabaloo is for nothing," Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Facebook, told the high court. "WhatsApp has consistently said that all chats are encrypted and WhatsApp also can’t read or store them."

WhatsApp has said under the new policy, only chats with business accounts will be shared with Facebook to generate advertisements. "Users have the option to engage or not with these accounts,” said senior counsel Kapil Sibal, arguing for WhatsApp.

With the Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, representing the government, also opining that the plea may need to be analysed for merits, the court proceeded to defer the hearing till January 25. Justice Sachdeva was hearing this public interest litigation after Justice Prathiba Singh recused herself from hearing the matter last week

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