Students win, WhatsApp can't share data with Facebook till Sunday

The directions came on a public interest litigation filed by Karmanya Singh Sareen, a student of Imperial College, London.

Published: 24th September 2016 04:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th September 2016 06:36 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: In a significant judgement, WhatsApp, the instant messaging platform, was on Friday restrained by the Delhi High Court from sharing with its principal investor Facebook any of its user information prior to September 25 when its new privacy policy comes into effect.

Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal directed WhatsApp to delete information and data of persons who opted out of the service before September 25 and not to share them with Facebook or other group companies.

Also, “in the case of users who choose to continue using the app, their information, data and details existing up to September 25, from when the new policy came into effect, shall not be shared with the social networking site,” the judges said.

The directions came on a public interest litigation filed by Karmanya Singh Sareen, a student of Imperial College, London, and Shreya Sethi, a student of Amity Law School, who challenged WhatsApp’s new privacy policy.

In the 15-page verdict, directions have been issued to the Centre and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to examine the feasibility of bringing the functioning of internet messaging apps like WhatsApp under India’s statutory regulatory framework.

The bench said it was issuing the directions as WhatsApp, while launching its app initially, had promised complete security and protection of privacy, as also because the issue relating to an individual’s right to privacy is yet to be decided by the Supreme Court.

Disposing of the plea, the court said users cannot contend that the company shall be compelled to continue with the same terms of service as were there at the time of the launch of the platform. Under the earlier privacy policy, there was complete protection of user privacy.

“We are, therefore, of the view that it is always open to the existing users of WhatsApp who do not want their information to be shared with Facebook, to opt for deletion of their account,” the court said.

The petitioners alleged that the new privacy policy violates the fundamental rights of users by allowing confidential information to be shared with Facebook.

WhatsApp had informed the court that when a user account was deleted, the information of that person was no longer retained on its servers.

WhatsApp is, however, free to share content with facebook if users do not delete their accounts by September 25.

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