The messaging app claimed that users will have a choice whether to accept the 2021 update, or they can choose not to do so and are free to delete their WhatsApp accounts at any time.
Countering the allegation leveled in the petition, 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 social messaging app also said that it is not under any legal obligation to provide such opt-outs to its users and added that the law permits companies to not provide their services to users who do not consent to their terms.
The company also said that such practices are commonly practiced by online platforms across the industry whenever they update their terms. The company also said that online platforms are often less transparent by simply implying consent through continued use of their service after a certain date — rather than prominently and clearly giving users control and choice, as WhatsApp did.
The company also submitted that such interference in privacy update policy would “cripple” the internet-based applications and websites industry.
The messaging app also said that the petitioners' allegations regarding the alleged disparity with European users are meritless.
The company maintained that the 2021 update, which applies to users in India, also applies to most of WhatsApp's users around the world, including in the United States. On the different policy to WhatsApp's users in the “European Region”, the social messaging app submitted that it is due to different rules and obligations in the European Region.
The court was hearing a plea seeking directions to provide “an option to opt-out” of sharing personal data with Facebook, as is mandated by the new policy of WhatsApp.
The petition has also sought directions to the Union of India to frame guidelines/regulations for safeguarding the privacy of the citizens.