Law students move Bombay HC alleging breach of privacy by Truecaller

On Wednesday, the Bombay High Court issued notices in a PIL seeking directions against the mobile application Truecaller for allegedly accessing contact details of users and auto registering users on Unified Payments Interface (UPI), linking it to their bank accounts.

The petitioners in the instant case are law students Manasi and Shashank Posture and Bisma Mulla claimed there was an immediate need to protect users due to unlawful collection of their data. It is submitted that this data collection might hurt national security and was a breach of privacy of users.

Allegations against Truecaller have auto-registered users on its UPI without their consent and had access to sensitive financial data of users like credit/debit card details and UPI details.

After a short hearing, the Bench of Hon’ble Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Hon’ble Justice GS Kulkarni issued notice to State, Centre and to NPCI and ICICI Bank (because its users were affected).

A reference was made to the official website of Truecaller, and it was submitted that Truecaller collected information like IP address, geolocation, browsing history and device ID.

Due to its privacy policy, Truecaller obtained consent from users for obtaining third party’s data which is void consent and violated fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. By inserting an exemption clause in its privacy policy, users had no option but to accept its privacy policy.

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According to the petitioners, information collected by Truecaller can be used for advertising and marketing, and this act infringes the privacy of the users.

It is stated that the petitioners approached Court after contacting the respondents, but apart from Truecaller, none of the respondents replied.

The petitioners are seeking the following from the Hon’ble Court:-

  • To declare that Truecaller’s privacy policy and terms and services violate public policy.
  • To direct Truecaller to clear and delete all personal data of Indian citizens obtained without consent.
  • To direct the Centre to inquire into alleged practices of Truecaller and ICICI Bank in the instant petition.

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