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SC constitution bench to examine WhatsApp privacy

SC constitution bench to examine WhatsApp privacy
A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court will from Monday start examining the privacy policy of instant messaging service WhatsApp, which has come under challenge on the ground that it allegedly infringed on the fundamental rights.

The crucial matter has been listed before a second constitution bench during the summer vacation. A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar is already hearing the triple talaq matter.
The WhatsApp matter would be heard by a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra, A K Sikri, Amitava Roy, A M Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar.

The Centre on April 27 had told the bench that a "regulatory regime" for data protection was in the offing as an individual's freedom of choice needs to be protected. The government's submission had come after the constitution bench had asked it to clarify its stand on the issue.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, who was appearing for petitioners Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi, had placed before the bench the questions of law which were required to be dealt with in the matter. Referring to the WhatsApp's new privacy policy, Salve had said that someone could snoop into the messages, videos and photos which a user shares or circulates on the instant messaging platform.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing WhatsApp, had countered the submissions saying they were protecting privacy of users as they have an end-to-end encryption technology which cannot be looked at by a third person.
Senior counsel K K Venugopal, representing Facebook, had also filed an application raising the preliminary issues on the maintainability of the plea. During the hearing, Salve had read out the questions of law submitted by him, which included "whether Article 21 read with Articles 14, 19 and 25 of the Constitution, confers upon all persons the right to privacy in respect of communications which are private in nature, irrespective of the medium of communication".
"Whether Article 19, read with Articles 14, 19 and 25 confer upon all persons the right to privacy in respect of all personal communications as well as personal data - financial and otherwise," he had asked.

While Article 14 relates to equality before the law, Article 19 pertains to freedom of speech and expression. Similarly, Article 21 and 25 relates to right to life and freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion respectively.
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