The Supreme Court on Monday sought the central government's response on a plea seeking to put in place regulation to protect the privacy of the messages of WhatsApp and Facebook users.
The court also issued notices to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), online messaging service WhatsApp and the social networking site Facebook.
As the petitioners Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Singhal contended that under the new policy of WhatsApp, the online messaging service could access, read, share and use the contents for commercial purposes, a bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice D. Y. Chandrachud told them: "It is a private person extending a private service.
You take it or leave it - - that is your right. "
Appearing for the petitioners, senior counsel Harish Salve told the court that it was the duty of the government to protect people's rights under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution and safeguard their privacy.
As he urged the court to intervene in the matter as new policy of WhatsApp affected the privacy of the people using the site, the bench observed whenever the messaging service will change their conditions, they will gave a notice to its users.
Telling the court that private communication between two persons had to be protected, Salve said that TRAI was not doing anything about it and government was under duty to regulate the online messaging site and the social networking site.
The court was told that TRAI has inserted a condition which says that if you intercept a call without government permission, you would be prosecuted.
We are, therefore, of the view that it is always open to the existing users of WhatsApp, who do not want their information to be shared with Facebook, to opt for deletion of their account. "
The High Court had also asked the Centre to consider if instant messaging app WhatsApp and social networking site could be brought under the statutory regulatory framework.