Digital Data a Reflection of Individual Personality, Centre Tells Supreme Court

Image Credit The Web

Image Credit The Web

When the WhatsApp privacy case is heard in September, it is very likely that the larger bench would have laid down the legal principles on the issue relating to right to privacy and data protection.

"Data of user is connected to the personality and it is an integral part of Article 21 (Protection of Life and Personal Liberty of the Constitution)".

On Friday, a five-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra was hearing a petition filed by one Karmanya Singh, who alleged that after Facebook acquired WhatsApp, users were forced to accept a privacy policy that allows WhatsApp to access messages, call details and data transfer details in violation of right to privacy.WhatsApp and Facebook have denied the charge and said privacy was protected as messaging was end-to-end encrypted.

A nine-judge Supreme Court Constitution bench is also hearing various issues relating to right to privacy and data protection arising out of question whether whether Aadhaar violates right to privacy or not. If any contractual agreement impinges on the privacy of personal data, it violates Article 21. It would empowers users with data, remove knowledge asymmetry and promote innovation, he said. The bench led by Justice Misra, also comprises Justices Amitava Roy, AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar and M Shantanagouder.

"We have already said that do not link privacy issue with this".

The apex court said, arbitrary conditions can not be imposed on the users as choice of the users can not be curtailed.

Counsel for WhatsApp and Facebook, senior lawyers Kapil Sibal, Sidharth Luthra and Arvind Datar, said that they were willing to give an undertaking before the bench that WhatsApp has not and will not share data with anyone.

Sibal said millions of users had no problem about WhatsApp privacy policy.

"Merely because you (WhatsApp) are a service provider, you can not say that I will open your letter and read it", he said, adding, "This court has the jurisdiction to hear this matter".

"It is an indirect way for telecom companies to stop WhatsApp", he said, adding, "Take any platform, data is shared". "Why only two petitioners have problems with WhatsApp when similar datasharing is going on on all platforms?" It is not a PIL (public interest litigation) at all.

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