WhatsApp Inc. has assured the Supreme Court that it would not start its payment services in India without fulfilling all the regulations in India. It submitted an undertaking with regard to this; During the hearing of a petition seeking a ban on its payment service, for not being in line with data localization rules.
Advocate Gaurav Sharma filed the Public Interest Litigation on behalf of an NGO, Good Governance Chambers (G2 Chambers). Senior Counsel Krishnan Venugopal represented the NGO.
The plea states that WhatsApp was permitted for beta testing to launch a “dedicated application” for UPI transactions in 2018. Instead of developing a separate application, WhatsApp added in its messaging service, the tool of UPI transactions. The petition alleges it as an intentional violation of regulatory regulations. Thus, its payment service operations should be suspended until the change is made.
Additionally, the petitioner asked for not granting any relaxations to WhatsApp. The petition prays for an order to initiate penal action against WhatsApp; for its “blatant non-compliance of Directives/Guidelines issued in regard to securing financial data of the Users”. Moreover, the petitioner asserted that the WhatsApp’s “serious, blatant, and willful violation” of the mandatory guidelines and regulatory norms of the UPI Scheme; poses a serious threat to the monetary policy of India. That this can affect the safety and privacy of the Indian citizens
Also, despite WhatsApp’s claims of having a safe technological system, the messaging app has problems relating to securing sensitive user data in the past; the petitioner informed the Apex Court.
Assurance By Whatsapp
The counsel for the Whatsapp, senior Advocate Kapil Sibal assured the court that Whatsapp shall not expand or start its payments service; without receiving clearance from Reserve Bank of India. Notably, Senior Advocate Arvind Datar represented Facebook Inc.
Decision By the Apex Court
The Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices Indu Malhotra and Hrishikesh Roy heard the matter. The CJI Bench took note of the assurance from the Whatsapp. The Court has asked the Central government, Facebook, and WhatsApp to file their replies within three weeks. Thereafter, the next hearing will be scheduled. The Bench also clarified that the government may process Whatsapp’s applications as per law and there is no stay on the same.
Notably, the Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC) also filed a petition before the Supreme Court on the same matter.