Privacy policy: Delhi HC declines fresh plea by Facebook and WhatsApp

The Delhi High Court has declined a fresh plea by Facebook and WhatsApp seeking to put on hold a notice issued by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) asking them to submit certain documents in relation to the probe being conducted on WhatsApp’s new privacy policy.

A Vacation Bench of Justices Anup Jairam Bhambhani and Jasmeet Singh said that a similar application seeking stay of further steps in the investigation had already been filed by WhatsApp and Facebook before the regular Bench which is hearing the primary case.


It noted that no interim relief to WhatsApp and its owner Facebook was granted by the regular Bench of the High Court on previous date of hearing on May 6.

“For the foregoing reason, we do not consider it appropriate to stay the operation of impugned notice dated June 04, 2021, at this stage,” the Vacation Bench said.

The High Court, however, said “there is no doubt” that the issuance of June 4 notice by the Director General of CCI was a step in furtherance of the investigation commenced pursuant to the order of the competition watchdog.

Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, representing the CCI, had stated that it would take substantial time for the preparation of a report pursuant to the receipt of the information called-for by way of the notice.

Mr. Lekhi said that the report would not be completed at least before the next date of hearing before the regular Bench on July 9.

Facebook and WhatsApp’s fresh application was made in a pending case filed by them challenging the CCI’s March 24 direction ordering a probe into WhatsApp’s controversial new privacy policy.

Facebook and WhatsApp sought the intervention of the court to stay the CCI’s June 4 notice asking them to furnish certain information for the purpose of inquiry conducted by it.

WhatsApp had said its new privacy policy came into effect from May 15. It also clarified that it would not start deleting accounts of those users who had not accepted it and would try to encourage them to get on board.

The CCI, on the other hand, had said it was dealing with the instant messaging app’s new privacy policy that could lead to “excessive data collection” of consumers, the use and sharing of the data in an anti-competitive context.

The CCI had said that the current probe order was made to gauge whether access to data would lead to abuse of dominant position. It was not concerned with the privacy aspect of the issue as the Supreme Court was already seized of it, it stated.

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 5:48:58 AM |

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