14:15 GMT15 June 2021
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    Earlier this month, WhatsApp further extended the deadline beyond 15 May for its users to accept its privacy policy. In January, WhatsApp had informed its users and asked them to accept that they were okay with its “Business” app sharing some user data with Facebook to make the buying-selling experience more personalised.

    Facebook-owned WhatsApp on Monday told the Delhi High Court that it is continuing its efforts to get users onboard with its privacy policy, yet if the users do not agree with the platform's terms, the company will gradually begin to delete their accounts.

    “We have asked users to agree to policy. If they don't agree, we will delete them. There is no deferment of policy," lawyer Kapil Sibal who is representing WhatsApp in the Delhi High Court said.

    The Delhi High Court has been hearing case for months now,  after a petition was filed by Delhi resident Seema Singh challenging WhatsApp's new privacy policy.

    For now, the high court has adjourned the case till 3 June, even as Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma, along with the petitioners, sought the status quo.

    The ASG has also requested the court to record the statement of WhatsApp's counsel that the company will conform with the Indian law and maintain the status quo where neither a user’s account nor data is deleted if they revoke their permission or consent for its controversial privacy policy.

    In its controversial update, the instant messaging app had admitted that it does and will continue to share user data like device location and contact details for chats shared on its “Business” app with Facebook to make the buying-selling experience more customised for users. WhatsApp’s online marketplace-like “Business” app was launched back in 2018.

    The update stirred major hysteria among WhatsApp's reported two billion global users, who are uncomfortable about sharing such a wide range of  data with Facebook and other apps.

    WhatsApp has also repeated that chats exchanged between users on its normal app remain end-to-end encrypted and no data is collected or shared with Facebook.

    The petitioners before the Delhi High Court in India urged the Central government to direct WhatsApp to either pull back its policy or bring out an optional alternative to having to accept this policy just to keep their messaging accounts functioning. In addition, the petitioners have also sought to provide the users who have accepted the privacy policy with another option to make a choice.

    Meanwhile, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) told the Delhi High Court in April that  WhatsApp’s privacy policy  would result in excessive data collection and the "stalking" of users for advertising purposes. 

    WhatsApp and Facebook had questioned the necessity of CCI’s involvement in the case when the Supreme Court of India was already looking into it. The CCI however maintained that the issue is not only related to concerns over data sharing and collection – but also about the possibilities of WhatsApp exploiting its dominant position in India for targeted advertising.

     

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