WhatsApp’s differential treatment of Indian users a cause for concern: Centre says in Delhi HC – About Your Online Magazine

The privacy policy offers European users a ban on any information shared with Facebook, while it is not offered to Indian citizens, says the Additional Solicitor General

The Center told the Delhi Supreme Court on Monday that WhatsApp’s different treatment of Indian users against its European users in terms of its privacy policy was a “matter of concern to the government”.

Additional Attorney General (ASG) Chetan Sharma, representing the central government, said: “the privacy policy offered by WhatsApp to its European users, specifically the ban on any information shared with Facebook, while this provision is not present in the policy of privacy offered to Indian citizens who form a substantial part of the WhatsApp user base ”.

“This differential treatment is a matter of concern for the government,” said the ASG.

“The government is also concerned with how Indian users have been subjected to these changes in a very unilateral way. By not providing Indian users with the ability to opt out of sharing this data with other Facebook companies, WhatsApp appears to be treating Indian users with an all-or-nothing approach, ”said ASG Sharma.

This, said Mr Sharma, may infringe on Indian users’ interest in the privacy and security of information.

Although the issue “is between two private parties,” said Sharma, “the scope and extent of WhatsApp makes it a pertinent foundation that reasonable and convincing policies are put in place, which is being done by the Personal Data Protection Act ”.

“The Personal Data Protection Bill is being discussed by the Joint Committee of Parliament,” added Sharma.

Hearing postponed to March 1

Taking note of the fact that the matter is being examined at the highest level, Minister Sanjeev Sachdeva suspended the hearing of the case for March 1, through which the Center will record the progress of the matter.

In the meantime, Judge Sachdeva refused to grant petitioner Manohar Lal’s request to issue notice to WhatsApp.

During the hearing, WhatsApp’s lawyer stated that a communication had been received from the central government requesting certain information about the privacy policy on January 18.

Mr. Lal, in his petition, alleged that WhatsApp’s new privacy policy violates the right to privacy guaranteed by the Constitution. He said the new policy “offers virtually a 360-degree profile in a person’s online activity” without any government oversight.

The request, filed earlier this month, stated that WhatsApp changed its privacy policy arbitrarily and even made it mandatory for its users to accept its terms and conditions, otherwise the accounts and services would be closed after February 8, 2021 for the respective user.

Subsequently, on January 16, WhatsApp accessed the microblogging site Twitter to clarify that, “No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8 and we will postpone our business plans until after May”.

Mr. Lal’s appeal sought guidance to issue guidelines to ensure that such a change in privacy policy by WhatsApp was carried out strictly in accordance with the right guaranteed in the Constitution.

“WhatsApp scoffed at our fundamental right to privacy when performing a public function in India, in addition to compromising the national security of that country by sharing, transmitting and storing user data in another country and that data, in turn, being governed by the laws of that foreign country ”, said the petition.

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