"Similar matter listed before Supreme Court Tomorrow": Delhi HC defers hearing in plea challenging WhatsApp's updated privacy policy

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It is contended that by compelling its users to accept the updated privacy policy, 'Whatsapp has put a sword upon its users, compelling them to share their data to them and ultimately other companies. This type of dissemination of information about an individual involves high risk of misuse of that data.'

The Delhi High Court on Monday deferred hearing in a batch of petitions challenging WhatsApp's updated privacy policy. The plea alleged that certain clauses in the New Policy directly hit the fundamental rights of the individual. 

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad deferred hearing in the matter after Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma informed the bench that the matters pertaining to similar issues are scheduled to come up for hearing before the Supreme Court Constitutional bench tomorrow.

One of the petitions filed by Advocate Chaitanya Rohilla has put forth various reservations with regard to Device and Connection information, Location information, Business of Whatsapp, third-party services, and services providers.

The plea submitted that "excerpts from the Policy of WhatsApp depicts how WhatsApp has made a mockery out of our fundamental right to privacy while discharging a public function in India, besides jeopardizing the National Security of the country by sharing, transmitting and storing the user's data in some another country and that data, in turn, will be governed by the laws of that foreign country."

"There remains a possibility that that foreign country might be a hostile country to India. Brazenly, WhatsApp has also made it mandatory for its users to accept this Policy by 08.02.2021 or else the services and accounts of the respective users would be terminated," the plea added.

In this context, it is alleged that this type of arbitrary behavior and browbeating cannot be accepted in a democracy and is completely ultra vires of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.

It is stated that the updated policy takes away the choice the users had until now to share their data with other Facebook-owned and other third-party apps.

The plea further stated that the updated privacy policy "virtually gives a 360-degree profile into a person's online activity. This level of insight into a person's private and personal activities is done without any government oversight at present or regulatory supervision".

The petitioner while relying on the judgment of the Supreme Court in Justice K.S. Puttaswamy and Others v. Union of India and Others [AIR 2017 SC 4161] alleged that the updated Privacy Policy directly attacks the fundamental Right of Privacy of the petitioner and every other citizen of India, guaranteed under Part-III of the Constitution of India.

Case Title: Chaitanya Rohilla v. Union of India