SC Will Determine If WhatsApp Affect Users Privacy Rights

WhatsApp is one of the most popular applications that we use for texting, sharing media, files, documents, songs, videos, you just name it. And are we giving up our privacy rights by using WhatsApp? Supreme Court will determine whether WhatsApp Privacy Policy affects individual’s right to privacy. We bet all of you must have seen the popup you get when you want to share something using WhatsApp.

The popup says, “WhatsApp needs to have access to your storage, contacts, camera and files to share…..”. A lot of people are of the opinion why it will have access to our contacts and file locations when we are trying to share something that is stored in the phone memory card? The reasons are unclear yet. But other apps need the same access too, like Facebook Messenger and Hike Messenger.

Why does WhatsApp need access to our personal files now?

The five judge Constitution Bench started questioning about the WhatsApp Privacy Policy on sharing user data on the social networking platform. The important thing was why a user would share personal information and data with a social networking site like Facebook? It didn’t happen before 2016, so why now?

The officials were concerned whether the individual’s rights are violated under Article 19 (1) (G) due to the privacy policy. WhatsApp cannot say the users agreed to it because the users didn’t have any option. Thus, they are forced to decide on it. If they don’t agree they cannot share any media, documents or other files.

WhatsApp claimed other competitors are targeting them because they are the most popular messaging platform in India. WhatsApp stated, they only share phone numbers, device ID, registration details and the last seen status. The court replied back, why is the need to “share” these details? The company didn’t need to share it before 2012. Then why did they start it from 2016?

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Two students Karmanya Singh and Shreya Sethi challenged the WhatsApp Privacy Policy. Advocate Madhvi Divan is representing their case. The point here is, if someone sends something in WhatsApp other people can intervene. And this is possible since private user details are available for Facebook and WhatsApp.

WhatsApp Privacy Policy needs a balance

Unlike any other countries, there is no legislation on Data Protection in India. Thus the government is obliged to protect the rights of the citizens. The violators of privacy policies are Facebook and WhatsApp, and the Union of India government must safeguard their citizens. Life of constant monitoring and access to personal files is a life of fear and anxiety. The court has got the power to lay a guideline for it. According to WhatsApp, the messages sent from person A to Person B is never seen by anyone.

Both Facebook and WhatsApp are foreign companies, and they have business all over the world. It is funny how the tech giants promise to keep our personal contacts and files discreet but still, they need access to every detail of us. When the bench asked to clarify their stand, the senior advocate representing the government, clearly said, all the rights available to the citizens and the tech companies should be balanced.

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