Two Indian engineering students; Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi, challenged Facebook Inc. stating that sharing WhatsApp numbers of users with advertising companies for “relevant” ads threatens the right of millions of users.
The duo filed filed a PIL, akin to a class action in Delhi High Court demanding that Facebook revert it’s recent policies, and also asked the government to frame guidelines for messaging apps to prevent a compromise of the privacy of its users. In their petition, Singh and Sethi said the new changes in WhatsApp’s policies compromise the privacy, safety and security data which technically belongs to its users, stating that the new WhatsApp policy is a breach of trust.
Additionally, they said the “user consent” didn’t mean much in India since quite a number of WhatsApp users can’t read or understand the consequences of the changes in the app’s policies.
WhatsApp Messenger was founded in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, both former employees of Yahoo!. It is a proprietary cross-platform instant messaging client for smartphones. It uses the Internet to send text messages, images, video, user location and audio media messages to other users using standard cellular mobile numbers. The name “WhatsApp” was used because it sounded like “what’s up. As of February 2016, WhatsApp had a user base of up to one billion, making it the most globally popular messaging application.
WhatsApp Inc. is based in Mountain View, California and has been acquired by Facebook Inc. on February 19, 2014, for approximately US$19.3 billion.