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Facebook, WhatsApp, and CCI spar over regulator’s jurisdiction as Delhi HC reserves judgment

WhatsApp

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday reserved its judgment on the plea by WhatsApp and Facebook seeking quashing of the Competition Commission of India's investigative order into WhatsApp's 2021 privacy policy change. Before a single-judge bench of Justice Navin Chawla, WhatsApp, represented by senior advocate Harish Salve, declared that the competition regulator had jumped the gun by started proceedings against WhatsApp. He said that the company's 2021 privacy policy did not change much but simply "fleshes it out", and was an "amplification" of the existing policy. In March, the CCI ordered an investigation to ascertain the “full extent, scope, and impact” of data sharing under WhatsApp’s new privacy policy and terms of use that is being implemented with “involuntary consent of users”. The regulator had taken suo motu cognisance of privacy policy and questioned both WhatsApp and Facebook. WhatsApp has prima facie violated provisions under the Competition Act through its “exploitative and exclusionary conduct” under the garb of a policy update, the Commission said. WhatsApp, Facebook question CCI's jurisdiction Salve argued that the CCI was examining privacy related issues without jurisdiction. This is for two reasons. One, the right to privacy is a constitutional matter, while the CCI deals with competition. Two, challenges against WhatsApp's 2016 and 2021 privacy policy changes are pending before both the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court respectively. Privacy-related issues should only be examined by the relevant court, Salve said. Citing a Supreme Court judgment, Salve argued that the CCI cannot come in to examine competitive concerns and…

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