WhatApp in a Soup of its own Data

The Supreme Court rejected  the government’s contention to hold back the hearing of  the Privacy issue regarding WhatsApp till Diwali , as that is when the new regulations from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) .

A five judge bench of the Supreme Court of India led by Justice Dipak Misra is entrusted to examine if the Facebook has violated the privacy rights of almost 160 million users of WhatsApp  who have an access to all the messages and contents shared via the platform.

The Constitutional bench has asked Facebook, WhatApp, the Centre and the Telecomm Regulatory Authority of India to respond to the petition by two young Indian students.  Harish Salve arguing for the petitioners has invoked the citizen’s fundamental right to speech and expression and right to privacy under Article 19 and 21 respectively. He contended that WhatsApp has become a  Public Utility Service, by providing free messaging, call and video call services.

The of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud bench had difficulties initially to entertain petition stating that could a free service provider be required to be liable for privacy rights being violated.

Since its inception in India in 2010, WhatsApp’s privacy policy promises to protect the data and content , which has continued even after being acquired by Facebook in 2014.

The government represented by attorney general Mukul Rohatgi while contending to hold back the hearing said that TRAI is attempting to make such guidelines so as to ensure security and confidentiality to such data which are retained by the servers.

The Bench is to hear preliminary written submissions from all the parties by 24th April and the next date of hearing has been set for the 27th April, 2017.

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