Delhi HC to pronounce order on pleas by WhatsApp, FB against CCI probe on Thursday 

The order will be pronounced by a bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad. The High Court had reserved the order on July 25.

Published: 24th August 2022 10:21 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th August 2022 10:21 PM   |  A+A-

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NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court will on Thursday pronounce its verdict on appeals by WhatsApp and Facebook against the order dismissing their challenge to the probe ordered by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) into the instant messaging platform's updated privacy policy of 2021.

The order will be pronounced by a bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad. The High Court had reserved the order on July 25.

In April last year, a single judge of the High Court refused to interdict the investigation directed by the CCI on the petitions by WhatsApp LLC and Facebook Inc -- now Meta Platforms.

In January last year, CCI on its own had decided to look into WhatsApp's updated privacy policy based on news reports regarding the same.

WhatsApp argued before the division bench that CCI cannot probe a policy that has now been kept in abeyance to await the fate of the Data Protection Bill and as well as the decision of the Supreme Court and the High Court on issues concerning the legality of the privacy policy.

Facebook argued that there was not even prima facie material in the case against it and CCI cannot investigate it in a 'creeping fashion'.

CCI however contended that its investigation into the new privacy policy should be allowed to proceed as the policy has not been withdrawn and the scope of its inquiry has no overlap with the Supreme Court proceedings which pertain to issues of an alleged infringement of user privacy.

The anti-trust regulator said that its investigation concerned WhatsApp's anti-competitive sharing of user data with Facebook and not the issues concerning privacy law and judicial process cannot be used to thwart the investigation.

It also defended the initiation of a probe against Facebook as well in connection with WhatsApp's privacy policy, saying that the former is the holding company of the messaging platform and it can 'potentially exploit the data being shared'. Before the single judge, WhatsApp and Facebook had challenged CCI's March 2021 order directing a probe against them.

While dismissing the petitions against the CCI probe, the single judge had opined that although it would have been "prudent" for the CCI to await the outcome of petitions in the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court against WhatsApp's new privacy policy, not doing so would not make the regulator's order "perverse" or "wanting of jurisdiction".

On January 3, while dealing with the appeals against the single judge order, a bench headed by then Chief Justice DN Patel extended the time for filing replies by Facebook and WhatsApp to two CCI notices of June 2021 asking them to furnish certain information for the purpose of inquiry conducted by it.


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