SC Refers WhatsApp Privacy Policy Matter to Constitution Bench

WhatsApp went offline at around 10:30 pm IST, with issues reported in dozens of countries in Europe and Asia.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday referred social media platform WhatsApp's privacy policy matter to a Constitution bench which will hear the issue on 18 April.

A bench of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud said the parties should appear before the Constitution bench and formulate issues to be taken up for the hearing.

The apex court had on 16 January sought responses from Centre and telecom regulator TRAI on a plea that privacy of over 157 million Indians has been infringed by social networking sites – WhatsApp and Facebook – for alleged commercial use of personal communication.

The Delhi High Court had earlier restrained WhatsApp, an instant messaging application, from sharing with Facebook the user information existing up to 25 September 2016, when its new privacy policy came into effect.

The High Court, in its verdict in September 2016, had directed WhatsApp to delete the information/data of persons who opted out of the service before 25 September 2016, and not to share it with social networking site Facebook or its group companies.

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The high court had also directed the Centre and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to examine the feasibility of bringing the functioning of internet messaging applications like WhatsApp under statutory regulatory framework.

WhatsApp had earlier informed the high court that when a user account was deleted, the information of that person was no longer retained on its servers.

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