WhatsApp doesn't retain users data, HC told

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court was informed on Wednesday by the instant messaging app WhatsApp that it does not retain information of its users on its servers once the user deletes the account. A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, hearing a plea against WhatsApp's new policy, reserved the order and said it would pass the order on September 23. The plea had said privacy of WhatsApp users was threatened by the new policy to share information and data with parent company Facebook and contended it "severely compromises the rights of its users".  Responding to a query by the high court about the fate of users' information once an account is deleted, the popular instant messaging App said that "all data gets deleted once the account is deactivated". Hearing the plea, the bench said it won't go into any other issue raised in the petition except what happens to the user's data if he decides to delete the account. Senior advocate Sidharth Lutra, appearing for WhatsApp, told the court that data will not be shared if user deleted his account.  The petitioners, however, opposed the submissions of WhatsApp, saying that user information continues to be retained for a longer period of time even after it is deleted. Senior advocate Pratibha M. Singh, appearing for petitioner Karmanya Singh Sareen said while WhatsApp claims in its affidavit that it does not retain messages, the company has contradicted itself by saying it can keep the messages for a longer period of time to improve performance.  WhatsApp was sharing the entire data with Facebook even if users opt out of the new policy, Singh has said, adding: "Even if you accept or don't accept, Facebook will continue to use the users' information." On August 25, WhatsApp made extensive changes to its privacy policy. Under the new norm, it announced it would and could share users' personal information, including their phone numbers, with its parent company Facebook. WhatsApp had given its users a 30-day period to opt out of the new privacy policy which expires on September 25.  The phone numbers associated with the user's WhatsApp account would be used on Facebook to show them advertisements, the petition said. The new privacy policy is in stark contrast to the earlier one that existed from July 7, 2012.  The petition said: "In its first revised modification on August 25, 2016, respondents (WhatsApp, Facebook Inc. and Facebook India Online Pvt Ltd) had introduced this policy that severely compromises the rights of its users and makes privacy rights of users completely vulnerable." The petition said the new policy threatens to take away the privacy of users' data which would be shared with Facebook and all its group companies, including for the purpose of commercial advertising and marketing.