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SC issues notices to Govt, WhatsApp and Google, seeks legal view over data-sharing policy


The right to privacy is back into the discussion as the Supreme Court issued notices to Twitter, Google and the Central Government, seeking their legal views on lack of control over data-sharing with cross-border corporate entities.

Besides, the Court has also asked Whatsapp and Facebook to file sworn statements on whether they shared any data collected from users with third parties.

The Court has issued notices in response to a petition filed by two students challenging new privacy policy of Whatsapp, which is now owned by Facebook.

The students alleged that the new privacy policy allows Whatsapp to share all the data collected from users with Facebook, causing the violation of their right to privacy.

However, WhatsApp contested this and said that there is no sharing with third parties. The instant messaging company added that the only information shared by WhatsApp with holding company Facebook is the display picture, the device details, last access details, and phone numbers.

Kapil Sibal was defending Facebook and WhatsApp in the Court, who admitted that the information collected is used for commercial purposes at the insistence of one of the judges.

Sibal claimed that Whatsapp data was completely encrypted and cannot be accessed by any third party, apart from the sender and the receiver.

However, Sibal was averse to making any statements that it would not be shared with any third parties on the ground that the data was collected by servers owned by others.

This is the second time this year, when the SC has sent notices to different parties hearing a petition on the privacy of messages shared on social media sites.

In January, on a petition challenging the privacy of messages on social media sites, the Supreme Court today sent notice to the centre, telecom regulator TRAI, WhatsApp and Facebook.

The petition had asked that a privacy policy be framed for social media networks like Facebook and WhatsApp.

The court had asked for a response within two weeks from the government and others.

Last year, the Delhi High Court had decided that the instant message site will not share with Facebook or any other company users’ data collected under its old privacy policy over the years up to September 25.

WhatsApp has to completely delete its data of users who opted out of the instant messaging app after its new privacy policy, the court had said.

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