The National Payments Corporation of India has been impleaded into the Supreme Court plea filed by CPI MP Binoy Viswam seeking a direction to the Reserve Bank of India to frame necessary regulations to make sure data of Indian citizens collected on UPI platforms is not exploited by companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook. The case will be heard in the fourth week of January 2021 and NPCI has been asked to file its reply.
When it came up for hearing on Monday before the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, Viswam’s counsel said there were very serious privacy concerns with respect to WhatsApp since it doesn’t have an independent app for payments. There is no two-factor verification system which is not safe, the council said.
The other problem is that data is being processed by companies abroad and anti-corruption departments abroad have already moved against Facebook, Amazon and Google.
“Critical data is being accessed and misused which is shared by the parent companies and is in violation of the Constitution Bench’s verdict on the right to privacy,” said Viswam’s counel
Appearing for WhatsApp, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal asked how can anyone else question the decision once the RBI, which is the authority, has cleared the transactions.
CJI Bobde said, “But the petitioner has made serious allegations against privacy breaches.” Pegasus can retain data collected by WhatsApp, which is a very serious statement, said the CJI.
In the petition, Viswam had prayed that Indians’ right to privacy should be protected from being misused by “giant corporations” for their “financial ends”. He submitted, “Millions of Indians use UPI platforms for making payments and with the RBI and NPCI allowing the Big Four Tech Giants to participate in this UPI ecosystem without much scrutiny, sensitive financial data of the Indian citizens are at risk of being misused”.
The petitioner has further sought directions to restrict Google Pay, Amazon Pay, and WhatsApp Pay from sharing information with their parent companies or any third party under any circumstance. It has also urged the Apex Court to restrict WhatsApp from launching its full-scale payment service, WhatsApp Pay, in India till all requirements and norms are complied with.