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SC refuses to hear CAIT’s plea challenging WhatsApp’s latest privacy policy

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea filed by Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) challenging WhatsApp’s latest privacy policy which was introduced last month in India.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India, Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde granted liberty to approach the Delhi High Court.

CAIT has also urged the top court to give a direction to the Central government to frame guidelines to govern tech giants like Facebook and WhatsApp.

The plea filed through advocate Vivek Narayan Sharma has sought for an urgent intervention of the court to roll back the controversial privacy policy introduced by WhatsApp.

In January, WhatsApp had introduced its privacy policy mandating its users to accept its terms and conditions, failing which the accounts and services would be terminated after February 8, 2021, for the respective user.

After facing criticism over the privacy policy, WhatApp on Saturday took to micro-blogging site Twitter clarifying that “no one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8 and we will be moving back our business plans until after May.”

The plea filed in the top court has stated that the Centre has failed to discharge its constitutional duty and responsibility by protecting the privacy rights of citizens forcing the petitioner to approach the top court.

The petition also sought a direction to prohibit WhatsApp and Facebook from sharing details and data of the subscribers or users with any entity including Facebook or its family of companies.

“Issue a writ in the nature of mandamus or any other writ or direction in nature thereof, directing the Centre to take all actions including steps towards making Rules under Section 87 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 so as to regulate the functioning of WhatsApp and Facebook and other similarly placed internet-based messaging services including their privacy policy for handling of or dealing in personal information, including private messages/photos/conversations / audio messages/videos/documents and data so as to ensure that the privacy rights of the users are not compromised and are duly protected,” the plea stated.

It further sought a direction to WhatsApp and Facebook to allow the government to carry out ‘Technical Audits’ of their data centres, where the data of Indian Users are stored, so as the retrieve and delete such data of Indian Users.

It said that in 2016, Germany, the United Kingdom and the entire European Union had prohibited similar action of Facebook which was also asked to delete all the data relating to Whatsapp users.

CAIT added that the updated privacy policy would adversely impact citizens’ fundamental right to privacy. The petition has also alleged that citizen’s personal data is being collected by a foreign entity and is being transferred outside the country.

“Centre failed to impose necessary and restrictive conditions in the instant case, though, on the proposed policy of WhatsApp, European Union’s Antitrust Authority had imposed serious restrictions and fine of 110 million euros in 2017,” it added. ANI

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