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SC to hear WhatsApp privacy case on 17 January for 'final disposal'

SC to hear WhatsApp privacy case on 17 January for 'final disposal'
Photo Credit: 123RF.com
21 Nov, 2022
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The Supreme Court on Monday listed the WhatsApp data privacy case for final disposal on January 17, 2023. The court has also asked the Centre, and Meta-owned WhatsApp, to conclude their arguments in the matter by December 15. 

This comes after a petition was filed by two individuals challenging WhatsApp’s deal with Meta to provide access to calls, photographs, texts, videos and documents shared by users. The individuals said that the act is a violation of their privacy and free speech. 

The Centre informed the court that a new data privacy bill would shortly be introduced in Parliament, after the government withdrew the previous one on August 3.

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The counsel appearing for the government said, “So far, the petitioners are concerned we are alive to the situation. Indian citizens cannot be discriminated against other consumers globally present on WhatsApp.”

The counsel added that the new bill is in the making and this matter needs a legislative response, rather than judicial intervention. 

Shyam Diwan, representing the petitioners, claimed that WhatsApp’s privacy policy had changed after being acquired by Meta. He added that as privacy is a global human right, Indian consumers shouldn’t be at a disadvantage in comparison to users abroad, until the Bill takes shape. He claimed that European users enjoy a higher level of safety and privacy. 

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Senior counsel appearing for WhatsApp, Kapil Sibal, said, “WhatsApp has strict privacy guidelines. The privacy concern ought to apply to other sites as well. The laws that are used in European nations are those exclusive to certain nations. In India, we adhere to the current legal framework.” 

“If any platform is operating in India, it should be citizen-centric and not WhatsApp-centric. We have witnessed many cases where privacy is being violated,” solicitor general Tushar Mehta said.