The petitioner requested the top court to exercise its powers to protect the fundamental right to privacy of over 400 million Indians by staying the implementation of WhatsApp policy. The plea contended that it is pertinent to note that WhatsApp has simultaneously issued a separate (and more privacy-respecting) 2021 policy for countries in the European region.
"The new 2021 Policy has exacerbated the status quo by further expanding the categories of metadata collected by WhatsApp and shared with the Facebook Companies, and by granting third parties such as Facebook access to the actual content of messages shared by users with business accounts on WhatsApp", said the plea filed through advocate TVS Raghavendra Sreyas.
The petitioner said there exists a strong prima facie case that WhatsApp has exploited its established market dominance in India to violate the privacy of its users through expansive data collection and data sharing with Facebook.
The plea contended that WhatsApp cannot be treated like any other private messaging service provider and allowed to engage in predatorial conduct because the Competition Commission of India has prima facie found that it holds a dominant position in the relevant market of Over the Top (OTT) messaging services for smartphones in India.
The plea contended that a dominant OTT platform such as WhatsApp should not be allowed to function in a manner that forces Indian citizens to waive their fundamental right to privacy.
"The 2021 Policy provides more details about the usage and log information, device and connection information, and location information collected by WhatsApp, and reveals the highly invasive and granular nature of metadata collected by WhatsApp", said the plea.