06/04/2017 11:35 AM IST | Updated 06/04/2017 12:28 PM IST

Government To Form A Regulatory Regime For WhatsApp, Facebook And Other OTT Services

A constitutional bench will examine privacy and free speech issues raised by WhatsApp's data sharing policy.

Dado Ruvic / Reuters

The Department of Telecom (DoT) informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it will form a regulatory regime for Over-The-Top services such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype, Viber, and WeChat. These apps use the data network provided by telcos to distribute services.

The Economic Times reported that earlier one Karmanya Singh Sareen had filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging WhatsApp's privacy policy. The apex court had said that under the IT Act, 2000, OTT apps are not under similar regulatory framework as the traditional voice and messaging network providers.

The court also said that questions related to the right to privacy and free speech, that had been brought up in the plea, would be referred to a five-judge constitutional bench. Last year, WhatsApp announced that it will share some of users' account information such as phone numbers with its parent company Facebook.

"This bench has to decide after hearing us whether the case has to be referred to the Constitution bench. If the contract between WhatsApp and Facebook was to be challenged as the violation of the right to privacy, then it has to go to a larger than a five-judge bench," advocate KK Venugopal, who is representing WhatsApp along with Kapil Sibal, said.

The counsel representing Whatsapp also said that the app uses end-to-end encryption between chats and calls. The next hearing is fixed for 18 April.