Delhi HC dismisses WhatsApp, Facebook pleas against CCI probe

CCI sent notices to Facebook and WhatsApp on June 8 and June 4, respectively, requesting information and responses to certain questions.

Edited By Sounak Mukhopadhyay
First Published25 Aug 2022
CCI's Additional Solicitor General earlier testified that the investigation into WhatsApp's new privacy policy was still open because the policy in question had not been revoked or put on hold.
CCI’s Additional Solicitor General earlier testified that the investigation into WhatsApp’s new privacy policy was still open because the policy in question had not been revoked or put on hold.

On August 25, the Delhi High Court dismissed pleas from WhatsApp and Facebook challenging the Competition Commission of India's (CCI) decision to launch a probe into the 2021 revisions to the instant messaging app's privacy policies.

The decision was rendered on August 25 by a bench consisting of Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad. On July 25, 2022, the bench kept the order reserved after receiving all of the submissions from all parties.

Also Read: CCI chief pitches for redefining ‘control’

Senior attorney Mukul Rohtagi earlier spoke on behalf of Facebook. He argued that, just because Facebook officially owned WhatsApp and the platform was alleged to exchange data with Facebook (the parent firm), it did not mean that Facebook should be the only party under investigation.

Rohtagi additionally stated earlier that the CCI lacked the prima facie evidence necessary to move forward with its inquiry into WhatsApp's new privacy policy while opposing the CCI probe against Facebook.

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CCI's Additional Solicitor General testified that the investigation into WhatsApp's new privacy policy was still open because the policy in question had not been revoked or put on hold by any court or other judicial body. Earlier CCI counsel said "we presently are not able to move forward with the investigation as the matter is examined by this court."

The Bench, earlier in the hearing, noted that the Data Protection Bill was still being finalised by the Centre while giving WhatsApp and Facebook time to respond to the notice the CCI had sent to them requesting a number of details. The interim order previously granted to the appellant by the court was also extended by the court.

Also Read: Probe wings of NAA, CCI to be merged

Senior attorney Harish Salve had told the court that, even though the case was still open and being considered by the courts, WhatsApp LLC was insistent on filing a response to CCI letters. CCI sent notices to Facebook and WhatsApp on June 8 and June 4, respectively, requesting information and responses to certain questions.

The Delhi High Court had earlier ordered the Director General of the CCI to keep in mind that a Division Bench of this court was currently considering the probe against the appellant (WhatsApp and Facebook). The Bench additionally observed that, in its opinion, there was no question that the DG's issue of the challenged notice was a step toward completing the Suo-Motu case investigation, which is the focus of the current LPA's complaint.

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