The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notices to Twitter and Google, two of the most popular Internet companies in terms of usage, and the Union government, seeking their legal views on a petition drawing the court’s attention to the lack of control over data-sharing with cross-border corporate entities in violation of a citizen’s right to privacy.
A five-judge bench also asked Whatsapp and Facebook to file sworn statements on whether they shared any data collected from users with third parties. The top court said that it would examine the information presented to it before taking a call on passing any interim directions.
The only information shared by whatsapp with holding company facebook is the display picture, the device details, last access details, and phone numbers, Sibal conceded.
Sibal later also conceded that the information collected is used for commercial purposes at the insistence of Justice Sikri.
Sibal claimed that whatsapp data was completely encrypted and cannot be accessed by any third party, apart from the sender and the receiver.
However, Sibal was averse to making any statements that it would not be shared with any third parties on the ground that the data was collected by servers owned by others.
“Then you will say that we share it with third parties,” Sibal argued.
He, however, agreed to file an affidavit on this to help the bench take a call on whether its urgent intervention was required in the case or not.
The fresh petition against Google and Twitter has been filed by one Pallav Mongia and will be argued by senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani.
That will also come up along with the Whatsapp and facebook cases for further hearing again on Nov 20, 2017.
The petition challenges the government’s privacy rules which do not specifically bar sharing of any data shared with either company with third parties outside the country’s borders without the consent of the user.