We’ve to protect people’s privacy: SC issues notice to WA, FB

Supreme Court of India New Delhi
New Delhi India - October 28, 2017: People visit Supreme Court of India in New Delhi

NEW DELHI: People have grave apprehensions on loss of privacy, the Supreme Court said on Monday and made it clear that it is the court’s duty to protect people’s privacy as it was hearing an application against the new privacy policy of WhatsApp.

The observation came as senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing the petitioner Karmanya Singh Sareen, sought direction to restrain WhatsApp from implementing its new privacy policy in India.

“They have come up with new differentiating privacy policy for the Europeans and different set of rules applicable to Indians,” argued Divan. He added that till the time new data protection law comes into force in India, WhatsApp should not bring its new privacy policy.

The Chief Justice replied, we will issue notice in the matter.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V.Ramasubramanian told WhatsApp counsel: “People have grave apprehensions about loss of privacy. You may be 2 or 3 trillion-dollar company, but people value their privacy more than your money, we have to protect people’s privacy.” The top court issued notice to WhatsApp and Facebook on this plea against its new privacy policy.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Arvind Datar, appearing for WhatsApp, strongly contested Divan’s argument, saying that the high court is already seized of the matter. Sibal said Europe has a different set of laws, and WhatsApp new privacy policy for India is similar to policy applicable in the US, Australia and other countries. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said the right to privacy is a fundamental right and they cannot compromised with the privacy of people.

Divan cited that WhatsApp has already delayed the implementation of its new privacy policy till May this year. After a detailed hearing in the matter, the top court issued notices to WhatsApp, Facebook and Centre in the matter and fixed for further hearing after four weeks.

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