A new chapter in the WhatsApp traceability case began on a rather anti-climactic note on January 30 – the Supreme Court just directed the Madras High Court to transfer all files related of the two writ petitions to the Supreme Court and scheduled the next hearing for after 3 weeks (probably February 20). 12 cases are now tagged together in this matter (T.C. (C) 5/2020), all of which had been submitted by Facebook and WhatsApp either in their transfer petition or in a separate list as directed by the Court in the last hearing. The division bench constituting Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta presided over the hearing. 'Intermediary Guidelines have not been notified yet,' WhatsApp tells SC Government needs more time, office of Solicitor General tells MediaNama: Rajat Nair, from the office of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who is representing the Union of India and MeitY, told us before the afternoon hearing that “the point of their limited appearance, if it happens” would be to tell the court that the process of finalising/notifying Intermediary Rules is in an advanced stage, but “the government needs some more time”, owing to “bureaucratic processes”. He also told us that the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, would “take care of some of these issues”. He confirmed that he was talking about verification on social media platforms, but did not respond on being told that that process is voluntary, not mandatory. During the hearing, an unidentified government lawyer brought up the Personal Data…
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