(Last Updated On: September 16, 2016)

WhatsApp Messenger-001

The respect for privacy is often played with as we can see in the case of Whatsapp. The messenger was charged with privacy breach wherein it’s user’s data and phone numbers would be shared on Facebook. Facebook being the parent company has apparently been using the customer data base for advertising without the knowledge of the users. Calling this a “serious breach of trust”, Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi, two students took to the court for justice, but most cyber experts have termed the private data sharing, legal.

However the IM Company was quick to respond that they have absolutely no access to the user’s data and that the company provides end-to-end encryption. The company also insisted that there is no such foul play and that the users were well in advance informed about the private policy.

Advocate Siddharth Luthra representing the communication giant said that the company only shared user names and phone numbers with Facebook. Further pointing out, “We only have access to the person’s name and number which is also obtained by online consent. We are abiding by the central government’s regulations for messenger apps. We are not dealing with sensitive information at all, if any of the user wants to opt out of the new policy, he/she cannot be forced to not choose that option”

The regulations in terms with privacy for online messaging apps or on an online platform are almost basic in India, such type of breaches are not specifically addressed and we hope with this case, it will be introduced. Facebook and Whatsapp plead “not guilty” of private policy breach but what is questionable is that sharing of user names and phone number is legitimate as per law, but phone numbers are all that they need to sky rocket their revenues by customer base details selling and advertising.

Whatsapp is the biggest instant messenger and it’s union with the biggest social media site changes lots of things, for one, they both have the largest user base. Both are growing manifolds in recent times and they both are front runners in their respective fields. The symptoms can be identified with the concept of monopoly but albeit it’s hard to prove. The messaging giant claims that none of the information is used until the user permits such usage. Also Whatsapp claims that it’s only phone numbers and the other media and data of the users are accessible only to the end users and even Whatsapp cant access the data.

The sharing of phone numbers itself is enough to break the private policy. The private policy breach was also noticed in the United States as well. For now, the case is in the court and we have to see how Whatsapp will defend it’s privacy breach. Privacy breach is no small issue anymore, it’s more like a broad light burglary. Using such data for targeted advertising is unjust and schemy. The rest is left to the court to decide.