Delhi HC declines to set aside CCI probe into WhatsApp privacy policy

The Delhi High Court on Thursday declined to set aside the Competition Commission of India (CCI) order calling for an investigation into allegations of abuse of dominance levelled against WhatsApp in connection with its privacy policy.

A single bench of Justice Navin Chawla said it did not find merit in the petition and refused to quash the CCI probe. The court said probe cannot be quashed merely because CCI did not await the outcome of the cases pending before the Supreme Court and the High Court.

On April 13, the court had reserved its verdict on Facebook Inc and its subsidiary WhatsApp challenging the CCI order.

The court noted that WhatsApp, Facebook independently challenged the Commission’s order without moving an application before the top court and the High Court for clarification. The High Court said this is not maintainable.

Facebook and WhatsApp challenged CCI order calling for a Director General (DG) probe to ascertain the full extent, scope and impact of data sharing through involuntary consent of users. They argued that privacy was a constitutional issue, which could not be examined by the commission.

The CCI, represented by Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, defended its order by clarifying the issue before the regulator was only with respect to the anti-competitive aspect of the policy. The commission contended there was no clash with the courts on issues of privacy.