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WhatsApp users get an important warning from Supreme Court

Supreme Court has taken a decision to reissue the unused mobile number to the new users. The new users can then create their WhatsApp accounts, but it is suggested to the previous users to clear their data, before letting their number go. Here are the details you must know.

Written By: Saumya Nigam @snigam04 New Delhi Updated on: November 07, 2023 12:15 IST
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Image Source : PIXABAY WhatsApp users get an important warning from the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of India has reportedly issued a warning to WhatsApp users, specifically for the prepaid telecom plan users who are looking forward to changing their phone numbers. As per the recent ruling, the apex court has stated that the mobile service which is being provided by Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea are planning to reassign the deactivated numbers to the new subscribers. The move will take place after a certain period of time. Here are the details.

WhatsApp users need to delete data before changing their phones

The Supreme Court took the decision for WhatsApp users because the platform is linked to a user's mobile number, which can result in data leaks. Therefore, the Indian judiciary body has emphasized the importance of WhatsApp users who are deleting their data before upgrading or changing their contact numbers. The move has been taken to prevent any potential privacy breaches.

TRAI to instruct telecom service providers to give out the deactivated numbers

The court has reportedly dismissed a petition which was filed by advocate Rajeshwari, who has been searching for direction from the TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) for instructing the mobile service providers to cease deactivating mobile numbers to new customers. 

The bench, which is led by Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti, further describes, "The subscriber can prevent misuse of WhatsApp data by deleting the WhatsApp account attached with the previous phone number and erasing the WhatsApp data stored on the local device memory/cloud/drive. It is for the earlier subscriber to take adequate steps to ensure that privacy is maintained."

The court's decision has been taken with the guidelines set by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in April 2017. 

The guidelines state that a mobile number which is deactivated and is not in use due to any reason or if it is disconnected, then in that case as per the subscriber's request, be reassigned to any new subscriber for at least 90 days. 

DoT’s policy on reallocation of the contact number

The court has further noted that the DoT's policy- which has been supporting the practice of not reallocating the numbers immediately, further enables the time for the previous subscriber in order to protect their privacy accordingly.

Mobile Number Revocation List 

Furthermore, the court has also highlighted the existence of the Mobile Number Revocation List (MNRL), which is a digitally signed record of permanently disconnected contact numbers. 

The MNRL works as a tool for maintaining transparency and efficiency, and further helping various service providers, non-banking financial institutions, banks and other regulated entities by avoiding sending One-Time Passwords (OTPs) to unintended recipients.

Supreme Court’s advice to WhatsApp users

The Supreme Court has advised WhatsApp users to delete the data which has been associated with their previous number. This will help safeguard their privacy when they will be switching to a new number. The decision makes sure that there is a balance between efficient number allocation being practised along the subscriber’s privacy.

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