The Supreme Court said on Tuesday that it will examine the feasibility of considering a plea challenging WhatsApp’s policy to share users’ data with parent company Facebook and others, after the introduction of the data protection bill in the Budget Session.
Solicitor General(SG) Tushar Mehta told a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice K M Joseph that a data protection bill is likely to be introduced in the second half of the ongoing Parliament session.
“Data protection bill will be introduced, subject to administrative issues, in the second half of this session which started today. We have filed an affidavit,” the SG said.
The top court observed that there was no harm in waiting for the bill to be tabled and “heavens are not going to fall in the meanwhile”. “Will it not be a mere academic exercise,” the bench asked.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing WhatsApp, suggested that the apex court should wait for the bill to be tabled.
However, Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that the introduction of a Bill itself should not defer the taking up of this case. He said the prayer he was seeking is that personal data cannot be shared with the Facebook group of companies.
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“You cannot share my data with the Facebook group of companies. We want an opt-out option, seeking a declaration to that effect. There should be a meaningful option. That option is not available to Indian users. There is a public interest element to this,” he said.
The apex court was hearing the plea filed by two students, Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi, who had challenged the sharing of user data by WhatsApp to Facebook and others.
With PTI inputs