“People have grave concerns about their privacy. You may be 2 trillion 3 trillion company. But the privacy of people are more important than your money,” – CJI SA Bobde
According to a Live Law report, the current instant application was filed as an addendum to the 2017 case by the Internet Freedom Foundation around privacy concerns following the merger of Facebook and WhatsApp in 2016.
WhatsApp tried to argue that attaching the 2020 update to an update first rolled out in 2016 should not be permitted. However, advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the Internet Freedom Foundation, reportedly told the Supreme Court that WhatsApp’s policy discriminates between Indian users and those based in Europe and other markets. “One set of privacy standards apply to Europe and a different set of standards apply to Indians. This happens when the Personal Data Protection Bill is pending… There is a huge differentiation between Europeans and Indians.”
Given that India is yet to officially roll out a personal data protection bill, this case is significant in the context of data privacy and Indian law. If indeed WhatsApp is forced to roll back its policy and treat India the same as Europe under GDPR, there could be implications for other companies and their products and services in India as well.