Whatsapp and Right to Privacy of the people

right to privacy

On April 18, the Supreme Court of India is going to hear the appeal against the Delhi High Court verdict on Whatsapp i.e. Karmanya Singh Sareen & Anr v Union of India and Ors. The Delhi High Court has allowed Whatsapp to operate with certain guidelines. The High Court had directed Whatsapp to delete the data till 25 September. It was alleged that after Facebook acquired Whatsapp, the information about the users have been shared by the acquired company with the acquirer one. The counsel on behalf of Sareen had argued that the Government has the primary responsibility to protect “Right to Privacy” of the people.

In the Delhi High Court, the writ was filed by way of Public Interest Litigation. Whatsapp was acquired by Facebook in the year 2014. Earlier, there used to be privacy policy which had to be agreed by the users. But after the acquisition, the situation changed and the privacy policy was revamped by the Whatsapp. The users were asked to agree by the new terms and conditions by 25th September, 2016 where it was stated that the information will be shared with the Facebook in order to improve the customer base and advertisements of both the companies.  It was contended that the current privacy policy is violating Article 21 of the Constitution of India and is hit by principles of estoppel. The policy is not capable of being comprehended by the Indian public. Another contention was whether the regulatory authorities like TRAI and Department of Telecommunications have control over the internet messaging applications. It only has control over the internet service providers. But Whatsapp has given option to delete the account anytime. All the information over its server will be deleted. Therefore it cannot be compelled to retain the same terms and conditions.

Everyone has access to internet and most of the mobile phones are compatible to run the app. The information, which is to be shared with Facebook, has not yet been done. The users have been given enough opportunity to act on their discretion. But the issue related to Right to Privacy should be decided as soon as possible by the constitutional Bench in order to have a binding precedent. The main issue is most of us do not read the terms and conditions before subscribing to anything. If we are not aware of the same, we cannot blame the other party. The other party has every right to amend the provisions in order to cater to his or needs. The apps are made mainly for the socialization purpose. The Court can put restrictions on the users’ access but it cannot take away the earning source of the software company suddenly for the interests of the public.