WhatsApp privacy policy update challenged in Delhi high court, notice issued to Central Government

By Arnab Mukherjee | Updated 9 Sept 2016
WhatsApp privacy policy update challenged in Delhi high court, notice issued to Central Government
  • Court upholds petition and questions the legality of data sharing between Facebook and WhatsApp

A recent change in WhatsApp’s privacy policy has been causing a stir everywhere. In New Delhi, a petition was filed by Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi challenging the decision by WhatsApp to share user data with Facebook. The Delhi High court took note of the same and has sought the response of the Central Government regarding the legality of such a policy change. A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal has asked the Government to respond by September 14 regarding the accusation that Facebook Inc, Facebook India Online Pvt Ltd and WhatsApp are engaging in ‘compromising the rights of the users’


The plea added that “The privacy policy is in stark contrast to the Privacy Policy existing from July 7, 2012. In its first revised modification on August 25, 2016, Respondents (WhatsApp, Facebook Inc. and Facebook India Online Pvt Ltd) have introduced this policy which severely compromises the rights of its users and makes the privacy rights of users completely vulnerable”.

The update to the privacy policy states that WhatsApp will be coordinating user information, like phone numbers, with Facebook to improve the ad experience on the platform. While it is possible to opt out of the entire ads-on-WhatsApp part, your numbers would still be shared with Facebook for other purposes. According to reports, the data being shared will include the profile photo, online status, status message and last seen status, the email address, device data, location data, third party services integrated with WhatsApp e.g- if you share an article using WhatsApp and information on who is messaging and calling you and the groups that you belong to.

And going by the indications on how policies and license agreements are changing, this may not matter soon and WhatsApp may no longer hold true to one of its core initial promises - to be ad-free and private. All it needs to do is to show the users another sea of text in the form of a new license agreement, which most users are likely to skip through as we always do in the case of terms and conditions, and get you to click a big green ‘I Agree’ button.

Arnab Mukherjee

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