Delete or share, High Court tells WhatsApp users

September 24, 2016 12:00 am | Updated November 01, 2016 08:32 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Court upholds messaging app’s policy on sharing users’ information with FB from Sept. 25

The High Court on Friday upheld WhatsApp new privacy policy on sharing of users’ information with Facebook effective from September 25 while directing the instant messaging app to “delete completely” from its server information/ data/ details of all users who choose to delete their account.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice G. Rohini also directed that “so far as users who opt to remain on WhatsApp are concerned, their existing information/ data/ details up to September 25, 2016, shall not be shared with Facebook or any group companies”.

Bound by policy

Declining to tell WhatsApp to give an option of “do not share’’ to its users, the Bench said such users can any time delete their accounts.

Considering certain clauses of WhatsApp on sharing information with third party in case of a merger and periodic revision of privacy policy, which were accessible to all online, the Bench said: “It appears to us that it is not open to the users now to contend that WhatsApp shall be compelled to continue the same terms of services (which were in place at the time of its launch in 2010).”

It, however, directed the Centre and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to “consider issues regarding functions of Internet Messaging Applications like WhatsApp and take an appropriate decision at the earliest as to whether it is feasible to bring the same under a statutory regulatory framework”.

The Bench made the observations while deciding a PIL by law students Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi who had challenged the WhatsApp new privacy policy 2016 for sharing users’ information with Facebook.

They had said the new policy would result in changing the most valuablefeature of WhatsApp i.e. complete privacy of details and data of its users. They had demanded an option of “do not share” for users who did not wish to share information with Facebook.

WhatsApp has clarified that only information of a user and not data will be shared with Facebook. It says undelivered messages are deleted from its server in 30 days.

However, information of a user does not get deleted from its server on mere deletion of WhatsApp from the device, the user has to delete the account using in-app system.

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