Thursday, November 30, 2023

Data Protection Bill likely to be introduced in Parliament: Centre to SC

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The Central Government informed the Supreme Court on Thursday that Indian users of WhatsApp cannot be treated differently from other WhatsApp users because work on a new Data Protection Bill to protect citizens’ rights is underway and it is likely to be introduced to Parliament in the upcoming session.

The case was scheduled for January 17, 2023, by a five-judge Constitutional court that included Justices KM Joseph, Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy, and CT Ravikumar. The bench was listening to two students’ complaints that WhatsApp’s 2021 Privacy Policy, which allows users’ data to be shared with the parent corporation Facebook and others, violates their right to privacy and free expression.

During his appearance on behalf of the Center, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the Supreme Court that the government had already withdrawn the previous data protection Bill and that a new Bill will be filed in Parliament.

“The government maintains that WhatsApp users from India cannot be treated differently from other users. The Indian government is aware of the problem, and a bill is being worked on “Mehta said to the court as he asked the bench to schedule a hearing once the Bill becomes effective.

The bench stated that the subject has been unresolved for a significant amount of time and that “if the government of India was intent on having a statute it could have put it in place.”

The court ordered the government to either bring a bill before Parliament that resolves user privacy concerns and requirements for WhatsApp, or the case will go to its final hearing on January 17, 2023.

It mandated that all cases’ pleadings be finished by December 15, 2022.
For the petitioners, senior attorney Shyam Divan told the bench that Indian users are denied access to their fundamental rights and that the same platform used in other nations, particularly in the European Union, has better privacy rules that are not followed in India.

WhatsApp’s senior attorney, Kapil Sibal, told the court that the business complies with the law in India even if European nations have their own set of rules that are implemented there.

Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi, two students, brought a complaint before the Constitution bench alleging that the agreement between the two businesses to provide access to calls, photos, texts, videos, and documents shared by users violates their right to privacy and their right to free expression.

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