The Centre told the bench that it has written to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the issue and is waiting for his response.
Now Facebook-owned WhatsApp has to convince not just the people but also the courts that its policy does not violate the fundamental right to privacy.
Rather, the company will try to encourage those people who haven’t yet accepted the terms to accept them.
The bench issued notice to Centre, WhatsApp and its parent company, seeking their stand on a plea by a lawyer who claimed that the latest policy violates users’ rights to privacy under the Indian Constitution.
Notably, the Centre told the bench that it has written to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the issue and is waiting for his response.
WhatsApp told the Delhi High Court: “If the relief sought by petitioners were to be granted based on the alleged deficiencies in the 2021 update, it would cripple the entire industry of internet-based applications and websites.”
It argued that the company is not forcing all its users to accept the privacy update and they can choose not to do so and stop using the messaging app.
The company also said that it is not obliged to provide an alternative option and the law permits companies not to provide their service to users who do not accept its terms and conditions.
The court listed the matter for further hearing on 3 June.
A Bench headed by CJI SA Bobde noted that the privacy of people must be protected given the allegation that users’ data was being shared with other companies.
While senior advocate Shyam Divan alleged that huge metadata was being shared for profit, on behalf of WhatsApp, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said that Europe has a special law—known as General Data Protection Regulations—which is not present in India.
Sibal continued his argument stating that WhatsApp will follow the law if Parliament makes it.
Chief Justice of India Sharad A Bobde said: "People have great apprehension over the loss of privacy. People think that if somebody messages to someone then...the whole thing is disclosed to Facebook."
But along with Sibal senior advocate, Arvind Datar claimed that such fears were not based in reality and termed it “misinformation”.
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