Delhi HC rejects Facebook, WhatsApp's appeals against CCI order to probe privacy policy

The CCI told the Delhi High Court that WhatsApp's new privacy policy would lead to excessive data collection and stalking of consumers for targeted advertising

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Apr 22, 2021 12:30 PM
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Delhi High Court has rejected Facebook and its subsidiary WhatsApp's appeals against the Competition Commission of India's (CCI) order directing a probe into WhatsApp's new privacy policy. A single-judge bench of Justice Navin Chawla found no merits in the petition and refused to quash the CCI probe.

Putting up a strong defence, the CCI told the Delhi High Court that WhatsApp's new privacy policy would lead to excessive data collection and stalking of consumers for targeted advertising to bring in more users.

Arguing on behalf of CCI, Advocate Aman Lekhi had said that this is alleged abuse of the dominant position which is why it had to step in and order a probe against the new privacy policy. He also said that the CCI is probing the competition aspect of the new policy and not the alleged violation of individuals' privacy which was being looked into by the Supreme Court.

Facebook and WhatsApp had contended that the CCI should not probe the matter since the issue of WhatsApp's privacy policy was before the Supreme Court. In January, the CCI decided to look into WhatsApp's new privacy policy on the basis of news reports regarding the same. The two companies were represented by heavyweights like Advocate Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi.

On March 24, fair trade regulator CCI had ordered a suo motu inquiry into messaging platform WhatsApp's updated privacy policy, which has been put on hold for the time being due to public uproar. WhatsApp's updated privacy policy will allow its parent company Facebook and its subsidiaries to collect user data, including their phone number and location. The updates are aimed at increasing business transactions on the platform.

The commission had directed the Director General (DG) to cause an investigation into the matter under the provisions of Section 26(1) of the Act. The commission also directed the DG to complete the investigation and submit the investigation report within a period of 60 days from the receipt of this order.

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