The Delhi High Court (HC) during a court hearing on January 25 said that accepting the new privacy policy of WhatsApp was a “voluntary” thing and one can choose not to use or join the platform if one did not agree with its terms of services updated by the messaging platform. The HC heard a plea by a lawyer challenging that the new privacy policy violates the right of privacy of individuals.

WhatsApp updated its privacy policy earlier this month with a deadline to accept it by February 8. After the public outrage and users moving to Signal and Telegram, the messaging platform pushed the deadline to accept the policy to May 15.

What Delhi HC said on WhatsApp privacy policy

During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma told the court that by not providing users the option to disable the sharing data option with other companies of Facebook, WhatsApp is treating users with an “all or nothing approach”.

“Insofar the government is concerned, while the privacy policy offered by WhatsApp to its European users specifically prohibits use of any information shared with Facebook companies for the companies’ purposes, this clause is not found in the privacy policy offered to Indian citizens who form a very very substantial part of WhatsApp’s user base,” the Sharma said during the hearing.

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“This differential treatment is certainly a cause of concern for the government. It is also a matter of concern for the government that Indian users are being unilaterally subjected to the changes in the privacy policy,” the Sharma added.

ASG also added that the Indian government was looking into the issues related to WhatsApp and has sent a communication to the Facebook-owned messaging platform seeking some information. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for WhatsApp, informed the HC that the platform will respond to the raised questions soon.

The court listed the matter for hearing on March 1.

To recollect, the Delhi HC during the first hearing on January 18 said that WhatsApp is a private app and it is optional whether to download the platform or not. “It is not mandatory to download it. Every other app has similar terms and conditions regarding sharing of user information with others,” the court had said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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