Home Tech SC notice to WhatsApp stresses duty to protect people’s privacy

SC notice to WhatsApp stresses duty to protect people’s privacy

Supreme Court notice to WhatsApp over a new privacy policy issue sparks fresh ebate. WhatsApp recently announced a new privacy policy that no longer allows users to opt out of sharing their data with parent company Facebook.

February 15, 2021: SC notice to WhatsApp on Monday seeking a response on its new policies, which have been implemented by giving the users an ultimatum to either continue using the app or uninstall it.

WhatsApp Messenger, or simply WhatsApp, is an American freeware, cross-platform centralized messaging and voice-over-IP (VoIP) service owned by Facebook, Inc. It allows users to send text messages and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other content

WhatsApp was founded by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, former employees of Yahoo!, in 2009.

Recent controversy regarding the new WhatsApp privacy policy

WhatsApp recently announced a new privacy policy that no longer allows users to opt out of sharing their data with parent company Facebook. 

According to the new policy, user data like phone numbers, address books, pictures, and the contents of some messages will now be automatically shared with Facebook.

The new policy came into effect on February 8.

The new policy says: “As part of the Facebook family of companies, WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, this family of companies. We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings.”

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Image: The Sun

What is data privacy?

Data privacy or information privacy is a branch of data security concerned with the proper handling of data – consent, notice, and regulatory obligations. 

Importance of data privacy

The new privacy policy gives the WhatsApp users 2 options – either to accept it or to delete the WhatsApp account.

In today’s era, privacy is of pivotal importance. Data breaches, security threats, and cybercrime can lead to negative and even harmful consequences, so it’s very important to comply with data privacy regulations. 

When private data gets in the wrong hands, bad things can happen. A data breach at a government agency can, for example, put top-secret information in the hands of an enemy state. A breach at a corporation can put proprietary data in the hands of a competitor.

A breach at a school could put students’ PII in the hands of criminals who could commit identity theft. A breach at a hospital or doctor’s office can put PHI in the hands of those who might misuse it.

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Image: India

SC notice to WhatsApp on new policy

The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from the Centre and WhatsApp within four weeks on a fresh plea alleging lower standards of privacy for Indians in comparison to European users of the messaging app.

“You may be a $2-3 trillion company but people’s privacy is more valuable for them and it is our duty to protect their privacy,” the top court told WhatsApp

A bench of Chief Justice of India, S.A. Bobde, Justice A.S. Bopanna, and Justice V. Ramasubramanian said Indian citizens have grave apprehensions regarding the privacy concerns posed by the new privacy policy introduced by the popular messaging app, WhatsApp. 

Also read: Highlights of the new WhatsApp policy explained

The apex court said people value their privacy more than the value of the company which might be in trillions. The top court also said that it is our duty to protect them.

WhatsApp and Facebook have refuted the Centre’s allegation of users’ data sharing. It told the court that the same privacy policy is applicable to all countries except European nations which have special data protection laws.

WhatsApp told the top court that Europe has a special law on privacy and it will also follow if India has a similar statute.

By Shrabanee Sabat

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