New Delhi: On 25 August, popular messaging app WhatsApp, owned by Facebook Inc., pushed a notification to its users, asking them to accept recent changes in its terms and conditions.

Many users agreed without checking the changes, and with that, unintentionally allowed WhatsApp to hand over information about them to its parent company Facebook for commercial use.

WhatApp’s new privacy policy allows it to collect and share information of its users’ with Facebook and all its group companies for the purpose of commercial advertising and marketing on its platform.

This includes sharing of phone numbers and information on a users’ contact list in violation of users’ privacy.

Aiming to safeguard the privacy of users, a plea challenging this move was brought before the Delhi high court on Tuesday.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of Delhi high court G. Rohini sought response from the centre and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on the issue and asked them to file their reply by the next date of hearing.

The public interest litigation brought by two students, Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi, alleges “violation of fundamental rights of users" by sharing confidential information under the privacy policy.

The petitioners contended that complete security and protection of privacy of the details and data belonging to users remained an extremely significant, essential and basic feature of this Internet-based messaging service, but stands compromised under the new policy.

Calling the consent sought by the user before accepting the policy a facade, the petition stated that most users are not equipped to comprehend the terms and conditions which makes such consent deceptive in nature.

“The privacy policy is in stark contrast to the privacy policy existing from July 7, 2012. In its first revised modification on August 25, 2016, Respondents (WhatsApp, Facebook Inc. and Facebook India Online Pvt. Ltd) have introduced this policy which severely compromises the rights of its users and makes the privacy rights of users completely vulnerable," the petition, a copy of which Mint has reviewed stated.

The policy which is likely to take effect on 25 September allows users to not accept the new policy by making changes in their WhatsApp settings and unchecking on the box allowing for sharing of information.

The court will heard the matter on 14 September.

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