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Leave WhatsApp, it’s voluntary: Delhi HC tells petitioner challenging new privacy policy


Delhi High Court judge Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva Monday told the petitioner challenging WhatsApp’s new privacy policy that he was free to leave the app and move to another application if he had concerns about his privacy. “Leave WhatsApp. Go to some other application. It’s a voluntary thing. Don’t accept it,” Justice Sachdeva said, adjourning the hearing to January 25.

In response to the petitioner’s plea that WhatsApp and Facebook analyse behaviour of the users from the data that is collected, Justice Sachdeva said: “Not only WhatsApp, all applications do that… Do you use Google maps? Do you know it captures and shares your data?”

The petition, seeking an injunction order against WhatsApp implementing its new privacy policy, was filed by a lawyer, claiming it was “against the fundamental right to privacy guaranteed by the Constitution.”

A direction has also been sought to the Centre for laying down guidelines to ensure that the instant messaging platform does not share any data of its users with any third party or Facebook and its companies for any purpose.

It contends that WhatsApp’s privacy policy essentially takes away the choice users had until now to not share their data with other Facebook-owned and third-party applications. “WhatsApp through the policy is clearly trying to share its users’ data to the parent company and other companies which will eventually use that data to serve their vested interests,” the petition stated. “It virtually gives a 360-degree profile into a person’s online activity.”

 

The Centre told the high court that the new privacy policy will need some consideration. “This petition needs to be analysed,” Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, said.

In its submission, Facebook, the company that owns WhatsApp, said: “There’s a hullabaloo about nothing. WhatsApp has constantly said the messages are encrypted and even WhatsApp can’t read it. We have only made change with regard to Business WhatsApp.”

Last week, WhatsApp announced it was delaying the implementation of its new privacy policy to May 15.

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