WhatsApp stated that its users are given the liberty to either accept the 2021 policy update or to not do so and also have the option to opt-out and delete their account at any time.
WhatsApp submitted that “users were not previously given the option to opt-out of WhatsApp's privacy policies if they wanted to use the WhatsApp service.”
The Facebook-owned company has averred in its affidavit that “it is under no legal obligation to provide such ‘opt-outs’ and further, the company doesn't have any obligation to provide its services to such users, who do not consent to their terms. “
While stating that such practices are common for online platforms, the company submitted that it was explicitly asking the consent of its users by offering them the liberty to choose and control unlike other online platforms wherein the users’ consent is implied by their continued use of service. In that respect, the affidavit also emphasized the point that even though such policy practices were being followed by several other online platforms, yet the petitioners were singling out WhatsApp.
The company denied the petitioner’s allegations of disparity with European users. WhatsApp submitted that the 2021policy update applies, subject to certain regional laws and rules, to all its users across the globe. The disparity in the policy applicable to users from the ‘European Region’ is due to the different rules and obligations applicable in that Region.
Even though the Parliament has been deliberating over the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 since January 2020, the Affidavit urged the High Court not to establish new data protection rights as the same would be “contrary to the principle of judicial restraint.”