WhatsApp's new privacy policy challenged in Delhi HC

A delhi-based advocate has claimed that the norms hurt national security by sharing, transmitting, and storing user data in another country.

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jan 15, 2021 5:53 PM
Whatsapp

Trouble seems to be mounting on the Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp with Delhi-based advocate Chaitanya Rohilla filing a petition in the Delhi High Court against the platform's new privacy policy. In the petition, Rohilla has argued that the new policy violates the right to privacy and jeopardises national security. The plea was listed for hearing today.
The new policy, which comes into force from 8th February, will see WhatsApp with users consent sharing data with its parent company Facebook. There has been a severe public backlash against the platform with many of its users migrating to Signal and Telegram.
The impact has been severe in India, which is WhatsApp's biggest market comprising 400 million users. Signal and Telegram have outpaced WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram to become the most downloaded apps.

In his petition, Rohilla has alleged that WhatsApp hangs a “Damocles sword” over its users by asking them to accept the policy by 8th February. He also says that the norms hurt national security by sharing, transmitting, and storing user data in another country.

“WhatsApp has made a mockery out of our fundamental right to privacy while discharging a public function in India, besides jeopardizing the national security of the country by sharing, transmitting, and storing the users' data in some another country. There remains a possibility that that foreign country might be a hostile country to India,” the petition read.

“It virtually gives a 360-degree profile into a person’s online activity...WhatsApp has made a mockery out of our fundamental right to privacy,” added the petition.

Through his counsel Manohar Lal, Rohilla contended that the policy took away the choice to not share data with other Facebook-owned and third-party apps. “This type of arbitrary behaviour and browbeating cannot be accepted in a democracy and is complete ‘ultra vires’ (beyond its powers) and against the fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution of India,” the petition read.

WhatsApp has previously said the policy update did not affect the privacy of messages with friends and family, as group chats are encrypted and the changes only relate to interactions with businesses.

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