You may be a $2-3 trillion company, but privacy more valuable: SC to WhatsApp
You may be a $2-3 trillion company, but privacy more valuable: SC to WhatsApp
File Photo

NEW DELHI: Holding that people's privacy is more important than money, the Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to WhatsApp and its parent company Facebook for a response within four weeks on its new privacy policy.

"You may be a $2-3 trillion company, but people's privacy is more valuable and it is our duty to protect their privacy," said the Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde, noting that the people have grave concerns about privacy.

The court was hearing a petition seeking to restrain WhatsApp from implementing its new privacy policy in India. The petitioner sought a direction to the web service to apply the same privacy policy which is made applicable to the users in the European Union region.

Senior lawyer Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioner, told the apex court that WhatsApp has in January “come up with a new privacy policy”.

“One set of privacy standards apply to Europe and a different set of standards apply to Indians. This has happened when the Personal Data Protection Bill is pending,” he added while asserting “there is a huge differentiation between Europeans and Indians”.

Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, who represented WhatsApp before the apex court, denied the users’ data would be compromised by the new policy. “This 2021 policy is applicable everywhere apart from Europe as it has a law. If India has a law, we will follow the same,” he said. The CJI asked him to put that on oath.

WhatsApp had earlier in January renewed its terms of service and privacy policy. This was to come into effect on February 8. The date has, however, been extended to May 15 following concerns over new rules.

Under the new privacy policy, the users have been asked to agree to its new data-sharing norms, a key point of which is sharing data from business conversations with Facebook.

The users were, however, left confused and concerned about privacy since it was not optional. Moreover, what has become a point of contention is the new data-sharing policy does not apply to users in Europe.

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