Technology News

WhatsApp and Facebook will be regulated, Centre tells Supreme Court

The petitioners had claimed that the privacy of more than 157 million Indians had been compromised by the commercial use of their personal communication.

The Department of Telecommunications on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it had plans to set up a framework to monitor over-the-top services, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype and WeChat, The Times of India reported. The apex court was hearing a case about the privacy policy of instant messaging service WhatsApp.

The government said the over-the-top communication services did not have a regulatory mechanism yet as they use the network of telecom service providers. WhatsApp dismissed petitioner Karmanya Singh Sareen’s doubts about its privacy policy, and said “over-the-top communication services are governed in some respect by the provisions of Information Technology Act, 2000, and are not subject to the same regulatory mechanism that is enforced on conventional voice and messaging services provided by telecom service providers”.

WhatsApp’s legal representatives refuted concerns about the application’s privacy policy and said messages on the service had end-to-end encryption preventing even the company from gaining access to them.

The apex court had referred the matter for hearing to April 18 before a five-judge Constitution bench.

WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, which was unveiled in August last year, allows the company to share some user data, including phone numbers, with its parent company Facebook. A petition was filed by two users, alleging that the privacy of more than 157 million Indians had been compromised by the commercial use of their personal communication. On January 16, the Supreme Court had sought responses from the Centre and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

Earlier, the Delhi High Court had asked WhatsApp not to share user information with Facebook. In a ruling in September, the court had said that WhatsApp must delete the information of people who had opted out of its new privacy policy before September 25 last year.

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