Why do you share user details for commerce, SC asks WhatsApp

The Supreme Court on Monday questioned as to how an online social networking site could share all data of its subscribers for its business, while hearing a clutch of petitions on the validity of the W

Published: 16th May 2017 01:39 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2017 05:00 AM   |  A+A-

A view of the Supreme Court| (Shekhar Yadav | EPS)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday questioned as to how an online social networking site could share all data of its subscribers for its business, while hearing a clutch of petitions on the validity of the WhatsApp privacy policy under which it shares all information with Facebook.

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra began hearing the petitions filed by Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi challenging the constitutional validity of the WhatsApp policy.

Senior advocate K K Venugopal, Kapil Sibal and Sidharth Luthra appeared for WhatsApp and Facebook and said, “All messages, photographs and documents exchanged by millions of users of WhatsApp were encrypted end-to-end preventing even WhatsApp from reading them. The information is never accessible to anyone.”

On this the Bench said, “What is bothering us in your new privacy policy is that you are sharing information for commercial exploitation. Why do you change the policy?” Under the new policy, WhatsApp can share all of its subscribers’ data with social networking platform Facebook.

This led Sidharth Luthra to explain to the Bench that, “What is shared is the phone number of the user, the identification number of the device used, the user’s registration detail and last access of the service by the user.” “The change in the policy has taken the trust away,” the Bench remarked.

Advocate Madhavi Divan, appearing for the petitioners said lack of privacy of messages over WhatsApp not only violated the right to privacy but also the right to free speech and many countries had already restrained WhatsApp from sharing information of its users.

The Delhi High Court had last year ruled that WhatsApp should delete all data in its possession till September 25, 2016, but said the company was free to share the data with Facebook post September 25, 2016, enabling subscribers to voluntarily withdraw from the service if they were not keen on sharing their data with Facebook.

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