Sharma added the government is also concerned about the way in which the Indian users “have been subjected to these changes rather unilaterally by not providing Indian users the ability to opt out…”
He further argued that WhatsApp prima facie seems to be treating the users with an all-or-nothing approach. “This leverages the social significance of WhatsApp to force users into a bargain which may infringe on the interest in relation to information privacy and information security,” he added.
Sharma also said that the issue obviously was between two private parties. However he added, “but the scope and expanse of WhatsApp makes it a germane ground that reasonable and cogent policies are put in place”.
WhatsApp on Monday told the court that it was responding to the communication sent by the government. “We are responding to it. This is all misinformation,” submitted Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, who represents WhatsApp.
Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva on Monday deferred hearing of the matter to March 1 to allow the government to make a decision in the meantime. The court earlier observed that WhatsApp services are voluntary and a user can choose not to use them.
“It is not something which makes it mandatory for you to download…,” observed the court, adding other applications also have similar terms and conditions.
The users earlier were mandatorily required to agree to the new policy by February 8 to continue using WhatsApp, but now the implementation has been deferred to May 15. Following the announcement of the updated policy, many users and privacy activists had raised concerns regarding it, particularly about the sharing of information between the messaging app and other Facebook companies.
Under Article 226, the plea argues, a writ can be issued to “any person or authority” including the private bodies and also for the enforcement of fundamental rights or “for any other purpose”. WhatsApp has become an important mode of communication among the citizens of India and is also being used to aid multiple Governmental functions as well, it contends further.