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 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.
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.