Wed. Aug 17th, 2022
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NEW DELHI: Defending its decision to investigate WhatsApp, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) told the Delhi HC on Monday that the messenger service has not withdrawn its privacy policy of 2021. Seeking the HC’s nod to go ahead unhindered with the probe, CCI said the scope of its inquiry has no overlap with the issue of an alleged infringement of user privacy pending before the Supreme Court.
The CCI made the submissions in the HC on appeals by WhatsApp LLC and Facebook Inc against a single-judge order dismissing their challenge to the probe ordered by the CCI into the instant messaging platform’s updated privacy policy. In January last year, CCI had decided on its own to look into WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy based on news reports regarding the same. WhatsApp and Facebook had subsequently challenged the probe decision in the HC, saying that the issue concerning its new policy was already pending consideration before the HC and the Supreme Court.
The single judge on April 22 last year had, however, refused to prevent the investigation. The CCI defended its move to probe parent company Facebook as well in connection with WhatsApp’s privacy policy, saying that the former is the holding company of the messaging platform and can “potentially exploit the data being shared”.
The counsel for WhatsApp informed the HC that “status quo” is being maintained for users who have not opted for the policy update, and the CCI probe should be deferred given the validity of the privacy policy being tested before the Supreme Court and the high court.
Last week, senior advocate Harish Salve, representing WhatsApp, submitted that it was challenging CCI’s jurisdiction to probe a policy that has now been kept in abeyance and as the government was in the process of bringing the Data Protection Bill.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Facebook Inc (now Meta Platforms), had argued that there was not even prima facie material in the case. and the CCI cannot investigate it in a “creeping fashion”.

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