The Supreme Court asked online messaging service WhatsApp why it changed its policy of non-sharing of data of its users after its acquisition by the social networking site Facebook in 2016 to permit sharing of the attributes of its users. “You were not sharing it in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. Why you want to share it in 2016?” asked the five-judge construction bench of Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice Amitava Roy, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar. Also Read - WhatsApp is soon to change the way your data is backed up: What it means?Also Read - WhatsApp introduces 'Papa Mere Papa' stickers to celebrate Father's Day: How to download, send?
“There is a third party also on your network,” said Justice Misra as it was pointed out that though the name of the user is not shared but the “attributes of the persons are shared”.
Appearing for intervenor Internet Freedom Foundation, senior counsel K.V.Viswanathan told the court that “unregulated and brazen collection and collocation of data and metadata by WhatsApp, Facebook, and their ilk, … createschilling effect on their (users) minds and shackles their free thought and expression, directly impinging upon their fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution”. ALSO READ: WhatsApp fined $3 million over Facebook data sharing in Italy
Referring to the rights guaranteed under Articles 19(1)(a) and 21 of the Constitution and Article 12 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he said, “… these guarantees not only create a negative right against the State of non-interference, but also cast a positive obligation on the State to enact such measures as are required Ato ensure that these freedoms are meaningfully exercised”.
Senior counsel K.K.Venugopal, appearing for Facebook, questioned the maintainability of the petitions by Sareen and Sethi, as he commenced his arguments which will continue.