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Case Description

 This case will decide if the data sharing policy of Whatsapp with Facebook violates the right to privacy.

Background

Karmanya Singh and Shreya Sethi filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court challenging the 2016 privacy policy of Whatsapp. They voiced an urgent need to protect the data of Indians who use internet messaging applications such as Whatsapp. They argued that, by sharing private data of its users with Facebook and all its group companies, Whatsapp threatens the right to privacy of its users.

In 2014, Whatsapp was bought by Facebook. Whatsapp acknowledged that their privacy policy will not change. Yet, in August 2016, Whatsapp announced a change in their privacy policy. The new policy says that account information of users would be shared with Facebook after 25th September 2016. This was when Karmanya Singh and Shreya Sethi, decided to challenge the privacy policy in the Delhi High Court.

On 23rd September 2016, a Divisional bench of the Delhi High Court rejected the petition. The Court, however, directed Whatsapp to delete the data, until 25th September 2016, of users who choose to delete the application as well as users who choose to retain the application on the mobile phones. However, information shared via Whatsapp messenger after 25th September was allowed to be shared under the new policy. It held that it is always open to the existing users of Whatsapp who do not want to share their information to delete their accounts.

Thereafter, the petitioners filed an SLP at the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court judgment.

A Constitution Bench will decide the case

Issues

Whether the Privacy policy of August 2016 of WhatsApp violates the Right to Privacy of its users?

Whether not providing an option to the user of not sharing data with Facebook is contrary to law?

Judges