Gold Silver Reports — WhatsApp Must Scrub Data When Users Delete App — The Delhi High Court told WhatsApp to scrub all data belonging to those who delete the messaging app from their devices in a decision that could strengthen calls for user privacy.
Users have until September 25 to agree to the updated policy , but can choose not to be shown more targeted advertising and friend suggestions on Facebook using WhatsApp data. However, after September 25, WhatsApp and Facebook will anyway share data with each other, raising privacy concerns among several users.
“It is a path-breaking judgement protecting the interest of WhatsApp users. It is a major dent on their policy, definitely ,“ said senior advocate Prathiba Singh, who argued for the petitioners.“WhatsApp will have to make changes to its policy to incorporate the directions of the court.For the future it will create a sensitivity among people that all their data could be shared with Facebook. If users make a conscious choice to share, then it’s fine.“ WhatsApp and its counsel could not immediately be reached for comment. Trai Chairman RS Sharma declined to comment saying that he was yet to go through the court order.
On Friday, the judges asked WhatsApp to completely delete information of users who do not want to remain on it and not share any information with Facebook after the account is deleted. It also said the service shouldn’t share information of existing WhatsApp users with Facebook until September 25.
WhatsApp says it doesn’t usually retain messages on its servers after accounts are deleted, but may do so in some cases.
“To improve performance and deliver media messages more efficiently, such as when many people are sharing a popular photo or video, we may retain that content on our servers for a longer period of time,“ WhatsApp says in its terms of service. It also says that if a user does not use the `Delete my Account’ feature in WhatsApp to remove the app, information “may be stored with us for a longer period.“
The Internet Freedom Foundation, which advocates a free and open Internet, hailed the Delhi High Court’s decision, and called for a strong privacy mechanism to be put in place.
Cases like these “demonstrate the lack of an institutional mechanism to protect user privacy and provide a remedy to citizens. In the absence of substantive clarity and a process to enforce it, people are constrained to file public interest petitions which remain ad-hoc remedies,“ IFF said in a statement.