Facebook, Whatsapp Seeks Relief From Govt Investigation Over Privacy Policy

Whatsapp and facebook have filed a plea in Delhi Hhigh Court to stay the order filed by CCI on Whatsapp's new privacy policy.
Whatsapp and facebook have filed a plea in Delhi Hhigh Court to stay the order filed by CCI on Whatsapp’s new privacy policy.

A vacation bench of the Delhi High Court passed the order on a petition filed by the instant messaging service Whatsapp and Facebook.

The Competition Commission of India had issued a notice to Whatsapp and Facebook to submit documents furnishing details of the probe involving WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, introduced by the platform on May 15.

In relation to this petition filed by the CCI, Facebook and Whatsapp filed a fresh plea in the Delhi High Court to stay CCI’s order, which has been passed by the High Court and now listed on July 9.

A vacation bench of Justices Anup Jairam Bhambhani and Jasmeet Singh said that since the court is sitting on a vacation bench, it does not want to get into the merits of the case.

Probe Launched by CCI

Instant messaging app WhatsApp updated its privacy policy on May 15 and clarified that users who have not accepted the new policy will be allowed to continue using the service.

However, this new policy was challenged by the Supreme Court as well as the Delhi High Court via a number of petitions.

The Competition Commission of India too launched a probe into the new privacy policy issue and Facebook and WhatsApp were served with a notice on March 24.

CCI clarified that the probe was simply conducted with a view to check on the issue of ‘excessive data collection and stalking’ of users for further advertisement purposes.

To this, the High Court issued a notice to CCI on May 6, asking it to respond to Whatsapp and Facebook’s appeals.

Plea Filed by Facebook and Whatsapp

According to Mukul Rohatgi who represents Facebook, “Why did CCI wait for June 4 evening to issue the notice? They could have done it earlier.”

Facebook and WhatsApp, in the fresh application, 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, states The Hindu.

Counsel for Facebook and WhatsApp submitted that the last date to respond to the notice was June 21.

Senior advocate Harish Salve representing Whatsapp added that the new privacy policy of 2021 is similar to Whatsapp’s privacy policy of 2016, which the CCI had approved. 

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aman Lekhi, who represents CCI has clarified that furnishing of information by Whatsapp is simply done to gauge whether access to data would lead to abuse of dominant position and not to generate another order on the app’s service.

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