Updates on the Whatsapp Case

We had earlier updated that IFF has intervened in a case involving issues of online privacy and licensing of online platforms before the Supreme Court of India. This case arises from a challenge to the change in Whatsapp privacy policy after which it began sharing data with Facebook. For those who are looking for more background on the case one of our earlier posts which is available here contains a neat summary.

While online privacy is important for the welfare of internet users if this is imposed through licensing requirements it will kill innovation. This is a hard balance to strike as India at present does not have a privacy law and one of the easier solutions is by making online platforms register and license like telecom companies. But online platforms are not telecom companies. They exist in a highly creative sector where everyday new features for old services and new services are launched.

At the same time there is growing concern on online privacy. Keeping these twin objectives in mind our legal counsel addressed a constitutional bench of the Supreme Court on May 15, 2017 and May 16, 2017. We asserted that while the Supreme Court possesses the jurisdiction to hear the case and protect user privacy this should not be at the cost of requiring onerous internet licensing. An extensive background of the arguments is available from a court report published by CCG Delhi on it’s blog. The case is now adjourned to July 21, 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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