During the hearing, a bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde said that the privacy of the people must be protected in view of allegations that users’ data is shared with other companies.
The bench said that citizens are afraid of losing their privacy and people feel that their chats and data are being shared with others. The court said that we are concerned that ‘WhatsApp reveals the circuit of messages’.
The court told the lawyers of Facebook and WhatsApp, “You will be two or three trillion companies but people love their privacy more than money. It is our duty to protect it.”
The Chief Justice told him, “We are telling you what we have heard and read. People think that if A sent a message to B and B sent it to C, then Facebook knows this entire circuit of messages” .
During the hearing, WhatsApp lawyer Kapil Sibal and Facebook lawyer Arvind Datar denied the allegations and termed it as “false information”.
Kapil Sibal, who appeared on WhatsApp, said that there is a special law (General Data Protection Regulations) in European countries, but it is not so in India. He said that if Parliament makes a law in this regard, the company will abide by it.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Central Government, said that companies cannot share the data of users and there should be data security.
At the same time, Shyam Dewan, the lawyer of the petitioner Internet Freedom Foundation, said during the hearing that the metadata is shared on a large scale for the benefit and it is a matter of concern for privacy.
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Dewan said, “We celebrate that WhatsApp does not lower its privacy criteria for users in India. They should be prevented from sharing the data with Facebook”.
Shyam Dewan said that the privacy of Indian users is being reduced compared to European users.
After this, the Supreme Court issued notices to WhatsApp and Facebook. Now the hearing in this case will be held after four weeks.
The new policy was to come into force from 8 February. Indian users were asked to accept the new policy. Now this deadline has been extended to 14 May. WhatsApp has more than 400 million users in India.