A bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and Poonam A Bamba adjourned the hearing on the appeals in view of the submission by the senior lawyer for WhatsApp to defer the case for some time in view of the pendency of the data protection law before the Parliament, and directed the parties to file their written submissions in the matter.
“Sharing of data, scrapping of data..someone needs to look into it. Aside this case, they say there are 5,000 data points on every citizen… They can predict what you are going to do in every situation,” Justice Shakdher observed.
Referring to Cambridge Analytica, a Uk-based company which is facing probe for allegedly illegally harvesting data of Facebook users, the judge questioned the aspect of data sharing in “closed groups” on Facebook.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing WhatsApp, submitted that WhatsApp “does not look at messages” and only has “external information” such as phone number and volume of trade.
On Facebook, one puts one’s life in public domain, he added.
“If we have the bill (till the next date of hearing), good. Else decide it on the basis of the law as it is,” Salve said.
The court also extended the interim order granting time to Facebook and WhatsApp for filing replies to two CCI notices asking them to furnish certain information for the purpose of inquiry conducted by it.
“Commitment is that I will do nothing till the Parliament’s law comes in. If Parliament allows it, I will have it. If it doesn’t, bad luck.. I’ve taken it off till the Parliament makes a law. Either we fit in or we don’t.”, Salve had said.
The division bench of the high court had on May 6, 2021, issued notices on the appeals and asked the Centre to respond to it.
The court had said it saw no merit in the petitions of Facebook and WhatsApp to interdict the investigation directed by the CCI.
The CCI had contended before the single judge that it was not examining the alleged violation of individuals’ privacy which was being looked into by the Supreme Court.