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Delhi HC says can't quash probe order against Whats App's privacy policy

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Delhi HC says cant quash probe order against Whats Apps privacy policy
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NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Thursday dismissed a plea filed by Facebook-owned WhatsApp against the Competition Commission of India's probe into its controversial new privacy policy.

The Single Judge Bench of Justice Navin Chawla said that the plea did not hold merits to deliver an order to quash the investigation against the popular messaging app. The court also reserved its verdict on April 13.

"Respondent No 1 cannot be said to be bound to hold its hand..", the Court said as it noted that the challenge to the 2021 privacy policy was only by way of applications and it was not stated in the Supreme Court had taken cognizance of the issue or passed any order.

The Court further recorded that WhatsApp, Facebook mounted an independent challenge to the Commission's order without moving an application before the Supreme Court and the High Court for clarification, and the same was not maintainable.

The order also rejected Facebook's appeal that an investigation could have been ordered against it.

Facebook and WhatsApp had moved the High Court earlier this month against the 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.

WhatsApp argued that the anti-trust regulator "jumped the gun" by starting suo motu proceedings in relation to WhatsApp's privacy policy of 2021 when the issue was pending before two constitutional courts- the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court.

It was contended that privacy was a constitutional issue that could not be gone into by CCI.

A probe could not be directed against Facebook on the ground that it was a beneficiary of the policy, it was stated. The social media platform also claimed that the order did not meet the requirements of Section 26(1) of the Competition Act.

CCI defended its order by clarifying that the issue before the regulator was only concerning the anti-competitive aspect of the policy and that there was no clash with the courts on issues of privacy.

CCI was dealing with excessive data collection and the use and sharing of it in an anti-competitive context, it was said.

Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi appeared for CCI. Senior Advocates Harish Salve, Mukul Rohatgi and Amit Sibal appeared for WhatsApp and Facebook.

(with inputs from IANS)

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TAGS:Delhi high court WhatsAppNewPolicy 
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