While hearing a plea in the case pertaining to WhatsApp’s privacy policy, the Delhi High Court expressed concerns over the alleged sharing of user data by Facebook with other companies.

The Delhi High Court was hearing Facebook’s and WhatsApp’s appeals against the Competition Commission of India’s probe into the WhatsApp privacy policy. Facebook is the parent company of WhatsApp.

The bench of justices Rajiv Shakdher and Poonam Bhamba noted that “every citizen has a concern” about data sharing.

“Cambridge Analytica weighs very heavily on us,” said Justice Shakdher.

The Delhi High Court judge said this while referring to the Cambridge Analytica scandal that allegedly involved a massive data breach. According to Facebook, the private data of over five lakh Indians was accessed by Cambridge Analytica before 2018.

The court also said that it was “concerned” about the ability of Facebook to predict user behaviour.

“Cambridge Analytica said they have 5000 data points on every citizen in America. That means they can predict what you are going to do in a particular action?,” said justice Shakdher.

Meanwhile, senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing on behalf of Facebook, argued that since the personal data protection bill 2019 is pending, this issue can be considered after the law is passed.

The hearing in the case has now been adjourned.


WhatsApp’s privacy policy was first announced in January and the initial roll-out was scheduled for February but, the platform delayed it till May 15, citing concerns around it. WhatsApp had said that it will use these three months to educate users and make them understand that their data is still safe.

Users, in particular, objected to one thing: the high-handed way in which WhatsApp forced users to accept the new privacy policy. It said that users have to accept the policy or else they will lose access to the app and they will no longer be allowed to use WhatsApp.

That’s when the first change in stance happened. WhatsApp announced that it will not delete the accounts of users but would limit the functionality of the app for them. This meant that while users will continue to receive messages or calls, they won’t be able to reply to them. This led to a lot of chaos. Users were confused about how the app will work after the restrictions come in.

Facebook and WhatsApp, on their part, explained that the new privacy policy was necessary because WhatsApp had to share some info with Facebook to implement the e-commerce features in the app. It was also necessary for the app to make the business accounts function better.


India today