Centre asks Delhi HC to restrain WhatsApp from implementing its new privacy policy

New Delhi: The Centre on Friday asked the Delhi High Court to restrain instant messenger app WhatsApp from implementing its new privacy policy, which is likely to take effect from May 15.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), in an affidavit filed before the High Court, stated that WhatsApp’s new privacy policy was not in tune with the IT (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011.

“Notably, the Rules require a body corporate who collects, stores or otherwise deals with data to issue a privacy policy providing for certain safeguards, in addition to imposing various other obligations. The impugned Privacy policy violates the 2011 Rules..,” MeitY said.

The Ministry said WhatsApp’s new privacy policy “fails to specify types of sensitive personal data being collected”.

“Crucially there is no distinction between personal data or sensitive personal data which is being collected,” the Ministry said, apart from WhatsApp failing to notify users on details of collection of sensitive personal information.

“The privacy policy mentions the involvement of third-party service providers who may have access to the data. However, the names of these service providers and other associated details have not been provided,” it said.

“This is also the case for other Facebook companies, who are allowed to receive and share information about the user from and with WhatsApp,” the Ministry said, adding, “The new privacy policy fails to provide an option to withdraw consent retrospectively.”

The Ministry’s stand came in response to a petition filed by Seema Singh, represented by advocate Meghan, challenging WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, which provided for sharing information with third party service providers and other Facebook companies.

The High Court has posted the case for further hearing on April 20.

This policy is mandatory for the users to use the platform, and also mentions that the data will be used by the company and its holding companies for them to analyse, said the petition, also filed by advocate Meghan and Vikram Singh.

This is the one of the petitions filed before different courts across India against WhatsApp’s new privacy policy.

Following a huge public outcry over the new privacy policy, WhatsApp took to micro-blogging site Twitter on January 16 to clarify that, “No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8 and we’ll be moving back our business plans until after May.” (Agency)

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