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.”
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.