internet and privacy

SC tells WhatsApp, Facebook to file affidavit promising not to share user data with third parties

Based on the reply, the bench will decide whether it must pass an interim order to stop the online companies from sharing information.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday told WhatsApp and Facebook to file an affidavit in four weeks assuring it that they will not share users’ information with third parties till the Centre frames a law on data protection. The bench said the affidavit should also specify the data they were collecting from users and whether they were sharing it with third parties, The Times of India reported.

A five-judge Constitution bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A K Sikri, Amitava Roy, AM Khanwilkar and MM Shantanagoudar said that based on their reply, the court will decide whether it must pass an interim order to stop the online companies from sharing data. The next hearing in the case is on November 20.

This directive was issued in light of the Supreme Court’s August 24 judgment, which upheld privacy as a fundamental right. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta asked the court to defer the hearing till the Centre framed a law on data protection. Mehta said an expert committee under former Supreme Court judge BN Srikrishna was identifying the key data protection concerns in India to file a draft Bill.

Advocates Kapil Sibal and Arvind Datar, who are representing WhatsApp and Facebook, denied the allegations of sharing data with third parties. They said that only the phone number, “last seen” information, mobile device used and the registration ID of WhatsApp users were shared with Facebook.

Two WhatsApp users had filed a petition alleging that the messaging service had violated the right to privacy of more than 15.7 crore Indians by sharing its users’ personal information with its parent company Facebook.

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