SC notice to Google, Twitter and Central Govt on data privacy

SC notice to Google, Twitter and Central Govt on data privacy

Mehta told the bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, Amitava Roy, A M Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar, that the panel would also recommend a draft data protection bill.

The Supreme Court has directed Internet search engines Google, Yahoo and social networking sites Facebook and WhatsApp to furnish details of complaints they have received in India about the uploading of objectionable contents on child pornography, rape and gangrape. They alleged that WhatsApp was sharing data of its users with Facebook and various third-party entities.

He also said that no content shared on WhatsApp by the users was shared with anybody else because it was end-to-end encrypted and even WhatsApp can not look into the messages or photos shared by its users.

He said the government was aware of growing importance of data protection and the need to ensure growth of digital economy while keeping the personal data of citizens secure and protected, which was of utmost importance. Both Whatsapp and Facebook vehemently contested this.

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Appearing for WhatsApp, senior counsel Kapil Sibal told the court that they were only sharing four things with the third parties - the user's telephone number, the type of the device being used, its registration and the last time when the user accessed the app. However, they would file an affidavit clarifying what is being shared and with whom. As he told the constitution bench that data sharing was too complex an issue for the judges to understand and decide, Datar also said that the whole issue was "complex" and requires legislative intervention since it is a "multifaceted matter".

The apex court said though the government was saying that it was not averse to electoral reforms but it has not placed the necessary details before it so far."Even the information furnished before it in an affidavit by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) was not complete. In what manner data protection would be there, the committee will consider it".

Senior advocate K.V. Vishwanathan and advocate Madhavi Divan, who appeared for the petitioners, today urged the top court for an interim directive to restrain WhatsApp from sharing the data with Facebook till the Centre came up with a law or the bench had decided on the issue.