IFF will represent your digital rights in the WhatsApp Privacy Case

Today a constitutional bench of the Supreme Court heard the WhatsApp Privacy Case—Karmaya Singh Sareen v. Union of India SLP (C) No. 804 of 2017—in which the Internet Freedom Foundation intervened to make submissions. The other parties in the case included the Petitioner, the Union Government and private platforms, WhatsApp and Facebook Inc. This case comes from an appeal against a Delhi High Court judgment last year, in a case where two students had filed a legal petition challenging the change in WhatsApp's privacy policy which would allow data sharing with Facebook. Here's our earlier post from when this case was in the Delhi High Court, and more on the current case in a report from the Indian Express.

We strongly felt that the rights of internet users needed a voice in court, as complex issues of net neutrality, online privacy and licensing of online platforms were being considered. The Supreme Court noted merit in our application and added us to the case, which allows us to make oral and written submissions. This was made possible thanks to the wonderful legal representation provided by Mr. K. V. Vishwanath, Senior Advocate, who was assisted by team of advocates including Mr. Nikhil Nayyar, Ms. Vrinda Bhandari, Mr. Sai Vinod, Mr. Mukunda Rao, Mr. Ravi Raghunath, and Mr. T. V. S. Raghavendra Sreyas.

Our application for intervention proceeds on two main grounds.

  1. Every internet user in India needs to be able to protect their rights when using online platforms, particularly with respect to their data. We are concentrating on building arguments to safeguard user privacy for metadata.

  2. We have been stating since the time of the March 2016 TRAI consultation on Net Neutrality and Over the Top Services that trying to force licensing of online platforms will be very harmful in various ways. Licensing online services under the Telegraph Act—like telecom companies—will bring in a license raj for the internet, increasing barriers to using the internet and impacting the rights of citizens.

We firmly believe that India needs to protect privacy in law and ensure we have an enforceable data protection regime. You can read more on this in our intervention application, which has been quoted and published by Legally India. The case is now adjourned to 15 May 2017.

This is the second litigation action in which IFF has engaged, the first being in the Delhi High Court on the right to be forgotten. IFF promises to keep advocating for your Internet freedoms—freedom of speech, privacy, net neutrality and freedom to innovate, inside and outside court.

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