The Bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal Tuesday issued notice to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on a PIL filed by two students, who said WhatsApp’s policy change contradicts its terms and conditions set in 2012 and would “endanger” the privacy of millions of users.
Taking note of the concerns raised by petitioners Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi, the high court has asked DoT and TRAI to file their replies by September 14.
The plea said the new policy, likely to come into force from September 25, seeks to change the “most valuable, basic and essential feature” of WhatsApp by “unilaterally threatening to take away the protection to privacy of …data of its users and sharing the same with Facebook and all its group companies including for the purpose of commercial advertising and marketing.”
Moreover, the WhatsApps’s updated policy states it “will share some of your account information with Facebook and the Facebook family of companies, like the phone number you verified when you registered with WhatsApp, as well as the last time you used our service.” This could include device information, online status, usage and log information. WhatsApp, however, points out that it won’t share any information “onto” Facebook or other Facebook apps, and that it won’t force a user to open a Facebook account.
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