Whatsapp Data Privacy Matter: Government to come up with a regulatory regime relating to data protection

Supreme Court: The 5-Judge Bench of Dipak Misra, Dr. A.K. Sikri, Amitava Roy, A.M. Khanwilkar and M.M. Shantanagouda, JJ listed the matter relating to Whatsapp data sharing with it’s parent company Facebook on 27.04.2017.

Harish Salve, appearing for the petitioners had argued that the policy that is formulated by WhatsApp is unconscionable and is unacceptable and also suffers from constitutional vulnerability since it maladroitedly affects the freedom which is a cherished right of an individual under the Constitution. Mukul Rohatgi, the Attorney General for India has submitted that there is going to be a regulatory regime to save the data base to guide the concept of net-neutrality.

On the other hand, Kapil Sibal, appearing for Whatsapp, argued that WhatsApp does not share data protection of voice and messages, so no part of the content which is exchanged between two individuals is ever revealed to third party and that their action is compliant with Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

It was argued by Kapil Sibal that the matter could not have been referred to the Constitution Bench without framing the questions that needed to be referred. Harish Salve, resisted the argument by stating that the foundation that the direction for listing the matter before a five-Judge Bench need not be treated as a reference as postulated under Article 145 of the Constitution of India. He said that the Chief Justice of India is the master of the roster and he has the authority on the administrative side to place the matter before a five-Judge Bench regard being had to the gravity, significance and importance of the matter. The Court, however, said that it will look into this preliminary objection at the time of delivery of the final verdict. [Karmanya Singh Sareen v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 434, order dated 18.04.2017]

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