Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha told the court that user data was integral to the right to life and personal liberty granted under the Constitution.
“Data of users is connected to the personality, and it is an integral part of Article 21,” he said. “If any contractual obligation impinges upon that, it will have ramifications. We will come out with regulations on data protection.”
The Supreme Court bench observed that platforms like WhatsApp cannot impose conditions that violate the rights of citizens. It said there should be a distinction between where data can be used and where it can be misused.
WhatsApp users allege privacy breach
A five-judge Constitution bench is hearing a petition filed by two WhatsApp users, who alleged that WhatsApp had violated the right to privacy of more than 15.7 crore Indians by sharing its users’ personal information with its parent company Facebook.
“WhatsApp User Policy now allows it to retain any videos, pictures, etc, which are widely circulated,” senior advocate Harish Salve, who is representing the petitioners, had said in May. “This means they are snooping, picking up data and sharing it with its parent company Facebook”.
In September 2015, the Delhi High Court had asked WhatsApp to not share user information with Facebook.