SC Issues Notice To WhatsApp And Facebook, ‘People’s Privacy More Important Than Money’


Issuing a notice to WhatsApp over the messaging app’s new privacy policy, the Supreme Court on Monday observed the people have grave concerns about privacy and added the citizens’ privacy is more important than money.

The apex court also sought a response from WhatsApp and its parent company Facebook in this regard in four weeks.

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“You may be a $2-3 trillion company but people’s privacy is more valuable for them and it is our duty to protect their privacy,” said an apex court bench headed by Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde.

According to the petition, WhatsApp should be restrained from implementing its new privacy policy in India and be directed to apply the privacy policy which is made applicable to users in the European Union region.

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Senior lawyer Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioner, told the apex court that WhatsApp has in January “come up with a new privacy policy”. 

“One set of privacy standards apply to Europe and a different set of standards apply to Indians. This happens when the Personal Data Protection Bill is pending,” he added while asserting “there is a huge differentiation between Europeans and Indians”.

Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, who represented WhatsApp before the apex court, denied the users’ data would be compromised by the new policy. 

“This 2021 policy is applicable everywhere apart from Europe as it has a law. If India has a law, we will follow the same,” he said. 

The apex court bench responded stating “then put that on oath”.

WhatsApp had earlier in January renewed its terms of service and privacy policy. This was to come into effect on February 8. The date has, however, been extended to May 15 following concerns over new rules.

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As per the new privacy policy, the users have been asked to agree to its new data-sharing norms, a key point of which is sharing data from business conversations with Facebook. 

The users were, however, left confused and concerned about privacy since it was not optional.

Moreover, what has become a point of contention is the new data-sharing policy does not apply to users in Europe.



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