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WhatsApp case: Indian Apex court directs Whatsapp to clarify users about privacy policy acceptance

The Supreme Court in India has instructed WhatsApp to inform its Indian users that they are not required to accept the platform’s 2021 privacy policy to continue using the service. The court stated that the functionality of WhatsApp will remain unchanged until the Data Protection Bill is enacted. In May 2021, WhatsApp confirmed in a letter to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology that users who have not accepted the updated privacy policy will not experience any disruptions.

Whatsapp ordered to publish advertisements in national newspapers

The court ordered WhatsApp to publish full-page advertisements in five national newspapers twice over the next month, highlighting this stance. The advertisements must include the information from the May 2021 letter to the government. Despite agreeing to issue the advertisements, WhatsApp and its parent company, Meta, stated that users who want to use both WhatsApp and Facebook will not be able to escape advertisements.

Digital Personal Data Protection Bill

Both parties to the case informed the court that the hearing might be postponed until the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill is presented in parliament in March. Senior lawyers representing the petitioners opposing WhatsApp’s privacy policy opposed the postponement.

In the top court, Kapil Sibal acted as the senior advocate for WhatsApp and Arvind Datar for Meta. Meanwhile, the petitioners were represented by senior advocates Shyam Divan and K.V. Viswanathan, along with other counsel.

The court was reviewing petitions, including a request by students Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi, challenging the agreement between WhatsApp and its parent company Facebook to share users’ calls, photos, texts, videos, and documents. The petitioners argued that this infringed upon their privacy and freedom of speech

The next hearing is on April 11

The next hearing is scheduled for April 11 and may be postponed until the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill is presented in parliament in March. Lawyers representing the petitioners opposed the postponement, citing similar justifications made in 2017.

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