A High Court in New Delhi, India, has asked Instant Messaging platform, WhatsApp not to share user information with its parent Facebook, NDTV India reports.
The directions came on a lawsuit by Karmanya Singh Sareen, a second year student of Imperial College, London, and Shreya Sethi, final year law student in Amity University.
The duo challenged the new policy which is to come into effect by September 25.
The Court directed WhatsApp to delete information and data of people who opt out of the service before September 25 and not to share it with social networking site Facebook.
It ruled that for those who choose to continue using the app, their information, data and details existing up to September 25 when the new policy comes into effect, should not be shared.
Indian telecom generator TRAI was also asked to consider ways of bringing applications like WhatsApp under the statutory regulatory framework.
Senior advocate Pratibha M Singh, who had argued on behalf of the two students, called the judgement ‘path-breaking’.
“It is a major dent on their policy, definitely. WhatsApp will have to make changes,” she told Press Trust of India.
WhatsApp has however said that it was not forcing anyone to use its application and as such those who want to could opt out.
WhatsApp announced in August that it would begin sharing more data with Facebook and will start letting some companies send messages to users.
With the new policy, WhatApp will now share users’ phone numbers with the social network to help provide “more relevant” friend suggestions and advertisements.
According to WhatsApp, sharing users’ phone numbers with Facebook would help tackle spam and abuse, as well as offer people “better friend suggestions and more relevant ads”.
Using the data, Facebook will be able to match people who have exchanged phone numbers, but have not added one another as “friends” on the social network.
“When WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook it was able to reassure users that it would remain independent,” said Pamela Clark-Dickson, principal analyst at Ovum.
“Now it’s giving Facebook phone numbers – some might say that’s a betrayal of trust. In a small way, it has gone back on what it said it wouldn’t do.”
Nigerian users’ reacts
Messages had trended on the platform as well as on other social media platforms suggesting how individuals could opt out of the data share.
To opt out of the data sharing, go to the settings on your WhatsApp.