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Modi Govt. to SC on WhatsApp row: Data Protection integral to Right to Life

July 21, 2017

Bench said that we have to “draw a line” on where data could be used and where it could be “misused”.

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Today, the Supreme Court was told by the Centre that it’ll come out with a regulations for data protection, asserting that the data involved fundamental rights of individuals.

The submission was made before a 5-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra which was examining the contentious issue of 2016 privacy policy of the popular messaging platform WhatsApp.

Additional Solicitor General P. S. Narasimha contended that data of users was “integral” to the Right of Life & Personal Liberty guaranteed under the Indian Constitution.

He said “Data of user is connected to the personality and it is an integral part of Article 21 i.e.Protection of Life & Personal Liberty. If any contractual obligation impinges upon that, it’ll have ramifications. We’ll come out with regulations on data protection.”

The bench also comprising Justice A K Sikri, Justice Amitava Roy, Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice M M Shantanagoudar observed that it’d have to “draw a line” on where data could be used & where it could be “misused”.

Justice Misra said that “We’ve already said that don’t link privacy issue with this, this case can be argued on another platform. I’ve a choice. You’ve a facility. When you’re giving a facility, you can’t impose arbitrary conditions,” .

Bench also observed that such platforms can’t impose conditions which violate rights of citizens as choice of the users can’t be “curtailed.”

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, who’s appearing for WhatsApp, told the constitution bench that the mobile application wasn’t at all against a regulatory regime & no user data was shared on the instant messaging platform.

However, he told the court that since a 9 judge bench of the SC is adjudicating the issue if right to privacy is a fundamental right, this matter should be heard after the judgement is pronounced by the larger bench.

After hearing the submissions, the court fixed the matter for further hearing on 6th September as the 9-judge bench was likely to pronounce its verdict on Right to Privacy by then.


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