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Absolute violation of Right to Privacy: Petition filed before Delhi High Court against new WhatsApp privacy policy

ByAditi

A petition has been moved before the Delhi High Court challenging the updated privacy policy of WhatsApp (Chaitanya Rohilla v. UOI & Ors).

The petition, preferred by Advocate Chaitanya Rohilla, claims that the policy absolutely violates the Right to Privacy guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution of India.

The new policy "virtually gives a 360-degree profile into a person's online activity", without any "government oversight", the petitioner has asserted.

It is the petitioner's concern that the updated privacy policy "takes away the choice" of a user to not share their data with other Facebook-owned apps and third-party apps.

It is added that there is no clarity on extent to which data will be shared and what will be done with the sensitive data of users.

"WhatsApp has made a mockery out of our fundamental right to privacy while discharging a public function in India, besides jeopardizing the National Security of the country by sharing, transmitting and storing the users data in some another country and that data, in turn, will be governed by the laws of that foreign country", the petition reads.

It is added that at the threat of terminating services in case of non-compliance, WhatsApp has made it mandatory for its users to accept the new policy by February 8, 2021.

"This type of arbitrary behaviour and brow beating can not be accepted in a democracy and is completely ultra vires and against the fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution Of India", the petition reads.

Submitting that the State has a positive obligation to ensure that the fundamental rights of citizens are not infringed by non-State actors, the petitioner has also prayed for a direction to the Central government to lay down guidelines in exercise of its powers under the Information Technology Act and Constitution of India to ensure that WhatsApp does not share any user data with any third party including Facebook.

The petitioner has argued that WhatsApp, a private body, is subject to the writ jurisdiction of the High Court as it performs a public function of enabling users to participate in a free flow of information and ideas.

The petition is filed through Advocate Manohar Lal.

The matter is likely to be heard tomorrow.

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