The government’s affidavit compounds the problems for the messaging app, which has faced a backlash from users with millions of users moving to rival apps such as Telegram and Signal. The outcry forced WhatsApp to delay the launch of the new policy to May. A WhatsApp spokesperson declined to comment on the government’s affidavit.
The affidavit was filed in response to a petition filed by Seema Singh, through advocate Meghan, challenging the WhatsApp policy update.
In the affidavit, the government said WhatsApp has stated that user data will be freely shared with other Facebook companies, even though the rules of 2011 under the Information Technology Act, 2000 prohibits such sharing.
Since the contract of the user is with WhatsApp, all other Facebook firms are “third parties” and any sharing of data obtained by it will amount to a violation, the Centre said. The matter will be heard on 20 April.
It also told the court that the policy fails to provide users with the option to review or amend their personal information.
Reacting to the Union government’s response, advocate Meghan said, “The three rights prayed before the court to be declared authoritatively have not been talked about in the counter affidavit. Furthermore, even the mechanism to protect the citizen’s privacy in the interim has also not been heeded in the counter affidavit.”
WhatsApp spokesperson said late Friday night: “As we said in January, when this matter was first raised: we wish to reinforce that this update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook. Our aim is to provide transparency and new options available to engage with businesses so they can serve their customers and grow. WhatsApp will always protect personal messages with end-to-end encryption so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see them. We are working to address misinformation and remain available to answer any questions.”