India: WhatsApp?s new privacy policy challenged in Delhi high court

WhatsApp sought to reassure users by saying that it would not sell, share, or give users' phone numbers to advertisers. Photograph:( Getty )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Sep 02, 2016, 09.35 AM (IST)
The new privacy policy of internet-based mobile messaging application Whatsapp has been challenged before the Delhi High Court in India.

The recent change in policy allows for sharing the app users’ data with Facebook.

A public interest litigation (PIL) in the matter was filed by two students - Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi - who claimed that the new policy was in contradiction to Whatsapp’s terms and conditions set in 2012. The change would “endanger” the privacy of its users, they said.

Based on the PIL, a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal on Tuesday issued notices to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and asked them to file their replies by September 14.

The new policy, likely to come into effect from September 25, seeks to change the “most valuable, basic and essential feature” of WhatsApp by “unilaterally threatening to take away the protection to privacy of data”, the plea said.

According to the new policy, there will be data-sharing with parent company Facebook. 

While it was clarified that messages and photos will not be shared, they will “coordinate” more to help improve ad experience on Facebook and its products.

It “will share some of your account information with Facebook and the Facebook family of companies, like the phone number you verified when you registered with WhatsApp, as well as the last time you used our service,” reads the new policy.

(WION with inputs from agencies)
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