• Centre tells Supreme Court- Data protection is integral to Right to Life

    July 22, 2017

    Data of users are connected to one's personality and it is an integral part of Article 21 of Constitution of India. The Centre informed Supreme Court that data of users is a very crucial part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty guaranteed under the Constitution of India. The Centre stated that there is a need for intervention by the State in the matter as data was connected to the personality of the user.

    This issue was raised by two students Karmanaya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi who have challenged the 2016 Whatsapp privacy policy, they have sought a direction from the Centre to formulate regulations to deal with the issue of data sharing.

    The Centre made these submissions before a five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra which was determining the contentious issue of 2016 privacy policy of WhatsApp.

    The Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice AK Sikri, Amitava Roy, AM Khanwilkar and MM Shantanagoudar observed that it would have to draw a line between where data could be used and where data could be misused.

    As per the Press Trust of India, during the hearing, the Court held that arbitrary conditions cannot be imposed on the users. The Centre claims that guidelines will be issued to control the privacy of the data but the critical issue is how to control it till the regulatory measures are not put in place.

    Justice Mishra said that “We have already said that the privacy issue should not be linked with this. This case can be argued on another platform. I have a choice. You have a facility. When you are giving the facility you cannot impose arbitrary conditions.”

    The bench also observed that such platforms cannot impose conditions which violate right of citizens as a choice of the users cannot be curtailed.

    Kapil Sibal appearing for Whatsapp told the bench that the mobile application was not at all against the regulatory regime and no user data was shared on the instant messaging platform. He argued that since a nine-judge bench is already adjudicating the issue whether right to privacy is fundamental right or not, this matter should be heard after the judgment has been pronounced by the larger bench.

    After hearing the submissions from both the sides the matter is fixed for further hearing on September 6 since by then the nine-judge bench would have given the till then.

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