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WhatsApp denies retaining user data after account deletion

The Delhi High Court has slammed WhatsApp about the existence of information and messages of a user when the user deletes the account. A bench headed by Chief Justice G. Rohini specifically asked the Facebook-owned company about the likely possibility when a specific user deletes the account. However, the company claimed that its new privacy policy is for sharing of information and not data of users with Facebook.

While hearing the petition filed by Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi, a division bench headed by Chief Justice G. Rohini said that they are not interested to know whether users are willing to continue with WhatsApp.

High court asks about data after deletion of WhatsApp user account

The bench is concerned about users who do not wish to share. They also posted questions regarding the storage of past information and data on deletion of the account. Finally, the court asked WhatsApp about the scenario where a user opts out all of a sudden.

The bench posted the questions during the hearing of a petition filed by Sareen and Sethi against the new privacy policy of WhatsApp. The new legal policy provides users with the option of sharing their account information with Facebook.

Content deleted but images retained, says petitioner counsel

Sareen and Sethi were represented by senior advocate Pratibha M. Singh. She revealed during the hearing that WhatsApp had in its affidavit claimed that when a user deletes his or her account, all the information is deleted. However, it goes on to say that images and videos are retained on the servers for a longer period of time. She counterattacked and asked the company to distinguish between these two clauses.

You please answer this. What happens if a user completely deletes his or her account from WhatsApp?

WhatsApp dismissed the allegations

Siddharth Luthra, who appeared for WhatsApp revealed that when a user deletes the account, all undelivered messages are deleted from our servers. The text messages will be completely deleted. If there is some information that a user has shared with another, that remains on the server. Luthra also clarified that sharing with Facebook is limited to information and not data.

When Luthra was arguing, the counsel appearing for the petitioners requested the court to record the company’s statement that the new privacy policy is only for sharing of information like telephone number and not data.

WhatsApp gives time till September 25 to opt out of new Privacy Policy

Even though WhatsApp claimed to provide users 30 days until September 25 to opt out of the new privacy policy, Singh informed the court that there was no such choice in reality.

She alleged that WhatsApp is not giving any choice. They continue to say that even if you accept or not accept, Facebook will continue to receive the information.

The company should provide an option like “do not share” to the user. She said that there is a potential risk of photos and music files being accessed by the company if users wish to continue using WhatsApp after the deadline time.

While concluding the arguments, the bench said that it would pass judgment on September 23 regarding the petition.