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India High Court Rejects WhatsApp, Facebook Plea To Stop Antitrust Probe

 |  April 22, 2021

The Delhi High Court on Thursday, April 22, rejected a plea by WhatsApp and Facebook to overturn an order by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to investigate allegations of abuse of dominance against the messaging platform’s new privacy policy. 

The big tech giant and its sister messaging company had earlier petitioned the SC to block the probe as several cases related to the privacy policy were pending before the higher courts. However, Justice Navin Chawla reportedly said that this rationale doesn’t hold and the competition watchdog cannot be bound by the outcome of those cases to commence its own investigation.

According to a Bar and Bench report, senior counsel Harish Salve, representing WhatsApp in a hearing on April 13, had said that the matter is already pending before the Supreme Court and the investigation taken up by CCI is just a “headline-grabbing endeavour.” He added that WhatsApp cannot “see” any user conversations and all the conversations are protected by end-to-end encryption. Besides this, all the messages are deleted from the company’s servers after they are delivered.

In its March order to complete the investigation within 60 days, the competition regulator had stated that the new privacy policy is “exclusionary and exploitative” and it would enable WhatsApp to abuse its dominant position in India.