Home >News >India >SC issues notice to Centre, RBI, Amazon, Google, Facebook in plea seeking data protection for UPI users
On January 4, the Supreme Court had said that further orders in the matter would be passed on January 10 by “the appropriate bench, as may be constituted”. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
On January 4, the Supreme Court had said that further orders in the matter would be passed on January 10 by “the appropriate bench, as may be constituted”. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

SC issues notice to Centre, RBI, Amazon, Google, Facebook in plea seeking data protection for UPI users

The notice has been issued in a writ petition filed in September by Communist Party of India (CPI) MP Binoy Viswam alleging that RBI and the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) have compromised the interest of Indian users by permitting Amazon, Google, Facebook and WhatsApp to participate in the UPI ecosystem without scrutiny

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the Reserve Bank of India, Centre, Amazon, Google, Whatsapp and Facebook in a plea seeking regulations to ensure that data of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) users is protected on all platforms.

The notice has been issued in a writ petition filed in September by Communist Party of India (CPI) MP Binoy Viswam alleging that RBI and the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) have compromised the interest of Indian users by permitting Amazon, Google, Facebook and WhatsApp to participate in the UPI ecosystem without scrutiny. They have allowed the foreign entities to work in violation of right to privacy of millions India by letting them operate on its payment services, the petition said.

On Thursday during the course of hearing, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Facebook argued against the case to be heard apprising the bench of the two-pending petition on similar issues of WhatsApp’s payment services. He also argued that as of now WhatsApp has complied with all the requirements.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing WhatsApp, apprised the bench that in the pending matter it has already been assured that WhatsApp payment services will not go live till all the required compliances are cleared. He argued against the notice to be issued since there is no cause of action in this case. He also highlighted that regulatory body often do not act on the ground when the cases on the issue are pending before the apex court, explaining that this slows down the entire process.

Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, representing Viswam, opposing this argument explained that the present petition calls for protection of the data collected on the UPI platforms which is different from previous petitions. He further submitted that as per the conditions laid down by the RBI, the service providers are required to have their servers in India and WhatsApp is still not in compliance.

The apex court bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde observed that the instant petition was different and said, “We will issue notice, here there is apprehension that the entire regime of payments will commence before the entire regulatory framework is put in place."

The petition seeks direction to ensure that WhatsApp is not permitted to launch full-scale operations of “WhatsApp Pay" in India, without fulfilling all legal compliances. Directions have also been sought to ensure that the data collected on UPI platform is not exploited/used by the companies in any other manner other than for processing the payments and should also not be allowed to be shared with their parent company or any other third party under any circumstances.

"Millions of Indians use UPI platforms for making payments and with the RBI and NPCI allowing the Big Four Tech Giants to participate in this UPI ecosystem without much scrutiny, sensitive financial data of the Indian citizens are at risk of being misused," the petition noted.

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