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Investigation into WhatsApp's new privacy policy won't stop, rules Delhi HC

Updated on Apr 22, 2021 10:58 AM IST

Facebook and WhatsApp have challenged the CCI’s March 24 order directing a probe into the new privacy policy.

WhatsApp's plea against CCI's probe has no merit, Delhi high court said. (Reuters)
ByRicha Banka,

The Delhi high court on Thursday dismissed the plea by WhatsApp and Facebook challenging the decision of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to investigate the new privacy policy of the intermediary. Saying that there is no merit in the plea, Justice Navin Chawla refused to pass any order stopping the investigation.

Justice Navin Chawla said that though it would have been "prudent" for the CCI to wait for the outcome of the petitions against the privacy policy in the Supreme Court and the Delhi high court but not doing so would not make its investigation order "perverse" or "wanting of jurisdiction".

The CCI on March 24 ordered a probe into the new privacy policy of Whatsapp, which has to be completed within two months. Both Facebook and WhatsApp challenged the order and in their separate pleas, filed through advocate Tejas Karia, contended that since the issue of WhatsApp’s privacy policy was before the Supreme Court, the CCI did not need to order the probe.

CCI contended that social media intermediary WhatsApp’s new privacy policy would lead to excessive data collection and “stalking” of consumers for targeted advertising to bring in more users.

In January, after facing flak for its new update which requires users to agree to share their business account data with Facebook, WhatsApp postponed the rollout of the policy from February 8 to May 15. CCI took a suo moto cognisance of the matter and ordered a thorough and detailed investigation to ascertain "the full extent, scope and impact of data sharing through involuntary consent of users".

"...the Commission is of prima facie opinion that the 'take-it-or-leave-it' nature of privacy policy and terms of service of WhatsApp and the information sharing stipulations mentioned therein, merit a detailed investigation in view of the market position and market power enjoyed by WhatsApp," CCI's order said.

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