Asked December 29, 2016

Delhi HC decision on data sharing

  • 1 Answer

Can you explain the decision of the Delhi HC of deleting the user data collected by Whatsapp to September 25 this year? What was Whatsapp's policy and why was it challenged?

Answer 1


The name of the case that you have asked about is- KARMANYA SINGH SAREEN AND ANR VERSUS UNION OF INDIA.

 Whatsapp, a popular messaging app, was launched in 2010, they had a privacy policy according to which they would not share details of any user to any third party. By virtue of this privacy policy, people started using Whatsapp and entered their personal details also.

Now facebook acquired Whatsapp and the latter was controlled by the former. As a result of this acquisition, Whatsapp notified its users that their details will be shared with Facebook so that facebook could advertise better. In order to continue using Whatsapp, users would have to agree to this policy by 25th September 2016, whereby their details would be shared with facebook.

Now, two college law students challenged this policy and said that this new change is violating the fundamental rights under Article 21, which guarantees Right to life to all persons. Also the users had registered on Whatsapp because it gave them privacy, now sharing it with Facebook is not a fair practice.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(TRAI) was also made a party to the case as a respondent(against whom a case is filed). However they contended that Internet messaging applications are not within the purview of TRAI.

Therefore Respondents filed an affidavit clearing their position-

Some of the points stated by them are-

  • Whatsapp does not share the messages, videos or any other information between two users to any third party.
  • Whatsapp deletes every message that has been delivered, if it is not delivered then whatsapp retains it for a maximum period of 30 days.
  • WhatsApp also offers end-to-end encryption for its services, which is on by default, when users and the people with whom they message use versions of WhatsApp's app released after 2 April 2016. When user messages are end-to-end encrypted, WhatsApp and third parties can't read them.  All videos, calls, voice messages, files will be protected and not even cybercriminals can access them.
  •  And if the users do not agree with this privacy policy, they can chose to delete their accounts and every information about them including their messages will be deleted.
  • However the Petitioners have refuted these points and said they are not in conformity with the Privacy Policy,2016.

    The Court said that it has not yet been decided if the Right to Privacy has been guaranteed by the Constitution.  Also the terms and conditions of the Privacy Policy of Whatsapp cannot be traced to any statutory framework so if any user wants their information to be shared with Facebook, they can opt to delete their accounts.

    The Court delivered the following directions to Whatsapp:

  • If the users opt for completely deleting "WhatsApp" account before 25.09.2016, the information/data/details of such users should be  deleted completely from "WhatsApp" servers and the same shall not be shared with the “Facebook” or any one of its group companies.
  •  So far as the users who opt to remain in "WhatsApp" are concerned, the existing information/data/details of such users upto 25.09.2016 shall not be shared with “Facebook” or any one of its group companies.  

    For any more information, you can refer to the judgment:




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