Delhi HC: Appeals by Social Media Platforms, WhatsApp & Meta, Against CCI Investigations Dismissed

Delhi High Court Law Insider

Priya Gour

Published on: 25th August, 2022 at 21:08 IST

Recent appeals made by WhatsApp and its parent company Meta (formerly Facebook) against the court’s previous order were dismissed by the Delhi High Court. The division bench included Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad, who opined that the appeals are without any merit.

Earlier, the single bench had declined to intervene in CCI’s investigation into WhatsApp’s 2021 privacy policy.

The Competition Commission of India or CCI had ordered a probe into the new privacy policy of WhatsApp The new policy was seen as a violation of the Competition Act 2000.

The plea made by WhatsApp and Meta in this regard was dismissed in this regard by a single judge bench of Justice Navin Chawla. The bench refused to dismiss the CCI probe.

The company had earlier assured the court of its non-implementation of its policy till the arrival of the Data Protection Bill.

Additional Solicitor General N. Venkatraman, counsel for CCI said that the ongoing investigations be not quashed. There is conflict or overlap of its enquiry and the matter of violation of right to privacy pending.

Whereas, it was submitted by WhatsApp:

“If the highest authority of the Country (Supreme Court) is examining the validity of its privacy policy, then it will not be open for any authority to commence investigation.”

Meta had submitted that due its mere ownership of WhatsApp, it should not be indulged by the CCI in its probe concerned with WhatsApp’s privacy policy issue.

Also, the CCI must wait for the findings of the Supreme Court aid and then proceed.

The CCI notice said:

Neither fully transparent nor based on specific, voluntary consent of users”.

And so, the concerned policy was a misuse of a dominant position, which is a violation of Section 4 of the Competition Act. The policy is a “takeit-or-leave-it” based policy and is “unfair and unreasonable”. Therefore, a detailed investigation is required to examine the scope and impact of data sharing through involuntary consent of users, as under Section 26(1) of the Act.

Henceforth, the Commission has directed the DG to complete the investigation and submit the investigation report within a period of 60 days from the date of the order.

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