It is not the first time that tech giant Facebook Inc and its subsidiary WhatsApp are under scrutiny regarding their policies. On 22nd April single judge bench comprising Justice Navin Chawla of the Delhi High court rejected a plea regarding a probe into their privacy policy by CCI (Competition Commission of India).

 Individual petitions were submitted by WhatsApp and Facebook to the court against the investigation. The companies stated that the action was unnecessary as there are petitions already in the Supreme Court and high court which are being looked into. The court against these grounds stated that the regulatory authority is not bound to wait for any outcomes to start their own investigation. The court further added that it found no merit in the petition to intervene in the investigation.

CCI stated that it has no intentions to examine the alleged user privacy policy issues which are already being looked into by the apex court. The current investigation will give light regarding the new privacy policy of WhatsApp that would lead to excessive data collection that would lead to targeted advertisements. This modern stalking according to CCI is alleged abuse of the dominant position. CCI further added in the court that the pleas challenging the decision were “incompetent and misconceived”.

The regulatory body also told the court that only after a thorough investigation there can be a clear picture about whether the data collected by WhatsApp and sharing it with Facebook can be classified as anti-competitive practice or abuse of dominant position.

The new WhatsApp policy would collect the user’s location, kind of device used, Internet Service Provider and also details of the people with whom they converse. This would lead to the creation of a custom profile that could be used for monetization by targeting advertisements.

The two social media platforms contended that CCI should not have ‘jumped the gun’ and intervened. The Suo moto jurisdiction was an unnecessary reaction. The apex court and high court were already considering privacy issues and the accusations were far from the competition aspect.

WhatsApp also stated that most data generated in the application belonged to them and the only data provided by the customers were their phone numbers used for registration. The company affirmed that the messaging app is protected by end-to-end encryption that no third party could intervene and that the update retains this.

While CCI was alleged by WhatsApp and Facebook that they were abusing their powers. The data available points to the injustice sugarcoated and availed to customers knowingly or unknowingly.

By Divya Alex (Content Writer, WCSF)

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