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Aarogya Setu, BHIM, IRCTC, Ola policies similar to WhatsApp 2021 policy: WhatsApp to Delhi HC

The plea filed by Dr. Seema Singh, Meghan, and Vikram Singh states that the new WhatsApp privacy policy of Jan 2021 is violative of Article 21 which enshrines the Right to privacy.

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WhatsApp in its 709 pages long affidavit filed before Delhi High Court said, a review of the terms of service and privacy policies of many internet-based applications and websites confirms that they often include provisions that are similar to and in many instances much broader than those in the 2021 Privacy Policy, in a plea seeking direction restraining WhatsApp from implementing its new privacy policy and terms of service dated January 4.

A divisional bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh had earlier directed WhatsApp and the Central government to file its affidavits in the matter.

The plea filed by Dr. Seema Singh, Meghan, and Vikram Singh states that the new WhatsApp privacy policy of Jan 2021 is violative of Article 21 which enshrines the Right to privacy. It has also alleged that the new policy further mandated that the person either accepts the new policy in operation or will lose access to WhatsApp by February 8, 2021.

The affidavit stated, “Petitioners have nonetheless singled out WhatsApp and sought unsubstantiated relief that, if granted, would disrupt all such internet-based applications and websites, as well as the multitudes of ordinary people who rely on them for a wide variety of services every day.”

WhatsApp further submitted that, “The 2021 Update does not affect the privacy of personal messages with friends and family in any way. Users’ personal messages are and will continue to be protected by end-to-end encryption, which means that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see these messages”.

WhatsApp has claimed that the petitioners sought direction to improperly stop the 2021 Update without any legitimate factual or legal basis, whereas, WhatsApp provides a user consent flow that goes well above industry practice and, consistent with WhatsApp’s commitment to privacy and transparency.

Earlier, MeitY in its affidavit referring to the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 submitted, “pending the passage of this Bill, the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Rules made there under forms the extant regime on data protection, any privacy policy issued by a ‘body corporate’ such as Respondent No. 2 must comply with the requirements specified in the Act and the accompanying Rules.”

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WhatsApp further stated that if its 2021 Update were stopped on the basis of Petitioners’ baseless allegations it would not only undermine users’ freedom to contract with a private party such as WhatsApp but also disrupt an industry that provides a wide variety of important services to users on the basis of similar policies.
To justify its stand WhatsApp stated, “A review of the privacy policies of many internet-based applications and websites confirms that such policies include provisions describing the information they may collect that are similar to – and in many instances much broader than – those in the 2021 Update,” while referring to the privacy statement and policies of applications and companies like Microsoft, Google, Aarogya Setu, Zomato, BHIM, Zoom, Republic World, Ola Cab, Truecaller, Bigbasket, Air India, Government e-Marketplace, IRCTC, etc.

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