The Centre on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court
that a comprehensive policy on electronic data
transmission was on the anvil and would be ready by August-September.
The policy will take care of the privacy
controversy involving WhatsApp
and Net neutrality, Attorney-General Mukul Rohtagi told a constitution Bench.
The court was hearing an appeal by two students, who alleged that the data
available with WhatsApp
was not protected and third parties could use them for commercial and other purposes, endangering the users’ privacy.
While senior counsel Harish Salve argued for the students, Kapil Sibal asserted no data
in the hands of WhatsApp
Rohtagi intervened to say the whole case should wait for the new guidelines being drafted by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the Department of Telecommunications and other stakeholders.
Rohtagi said the issue of privacy
is before another constitution Bench in the Aadhaar
case, and that is another reason to postpone the hearing in this case. According to the government, the Constitution does not spell out right to privacy
as a fundamental right nor any judgment of the Supreme Court.
protection applies to a whole range of applications. "Even if you pay Rs 20 to a rickshawallah, the data
provided give the profile of the customer. If you search in google, what you search for along with your profile is available to interested parties,” counsel explained. According to him, domestic servants these days are well-versant with all these services more than educated persons.
The five-judge Bench, presided over by Justice Dipak Misra, asked the petitioners to draft the propositions that can be argued before the court.
After getting the proposals, the court will take further steps on April 27. Sibal argued that the smaller bench which heard the appeal against the Delhi high court judgment did not draft the questions to be decided by the constitution bench.
There was no constitutional question involved in the appeal. Whatsapp
has asserted time and again that the information passing through its service was encrypted and no outsider has access to it. It is in full compliance with the Information Technology Act, he asserted.