“You have an option. Don’t use the app,” Delhi HC on plea against WhatsApp New Privacy Policy


Umamageswari Maruthappan

The Delhi High Court single-judge bench comprising Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva remarked that WhatsApp is only an optional application and the petitioner is free to quit it in case of any agitations.

“Leave WhatsApp. Go to some other application. It’s a voluntary thing. Don’t accept it,” Justice Sachdeva said.

Refusing to issue a notice on the plea, Justice Sachdeva stated that he is yet to understand the petitioner’s concern and adjourned the matter to 25th January 2021.

Adv. Manohar Lal who appeared for the petitioner questioned the validity of the WhatsApp’s Updated Privacy Policy.

“Whatsapp shares information globally. Everything they gather from us is shared,” Adv. Lal said.

Further, the petitioner side argued that while in countries like the USA and Europe, WhatsApp is giving an option to either accept or reject the new policy, no such option is available in India.

The Court countered the petitioner’s statements and replied that most of the applications have such policies and it is upon to the user to accept it or not.

Regarding Adv. Rohilla’s concern over options of acceptance and rejection, the Court restated, “You have an option, don’t use the app.”

The Court had also sought the Government’s stand in this regard. ASG Chetan Sharma, appearing for the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, said that the matter needs some consideration and the petition has to be analyzed.

WhatsApp was represented by Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal while Adv. Mukul Rohatgi appeared for Facebook. The defendants challenged the maintainability of the petition.

“The app is completely safe to use. Let the petitioner be reassured that all chats between friends, relatives, etc will be encrypted and safe,” Facebook submitted.

After hearing both the sides, the single-judge bench listed the matter to be heard on January 25.

A petition was filed by Advocate Chaitanya Rohilla, on 14th January 2021, seeking to prevent the WhatsApp Group from enforcing its updated privacy policies in India. The plea also sought an injunction order stating that it affects a person’s right to privacy.

The plea further urged the Court to issue guidelines to ensure WhatsApp policies are complying with the fundamental rights of the citizens guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.

On 4th January 2021, WhatsApp has updated its privacy policies and mandated all its users to accept it, failing to which will lead to their services being terminated after 8th February 2021. However, the Company clarified that the implementation of the updated policies will be in May 2021.

On 15th January 2021, the petition was listed before Justice Prathiba Singh who refused to take over the matter for hearing.

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