Facebook: Not even prima facie material with CCI to start investigation: Facebook Inc – HC

Facebook Inc. Friday claimed in Delhi High Court that there was not even prima facie material for Competition Commission of India (CCI) to initiate an investigation by conducting an investigation. Whatsapp privacy policy. Facebook, now Meta Platforms, presented before the panel of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Judge Subramonium Prasad that CCI cannot explore it “creeping”.

senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgispeaking for Facebook Inc, argued that the fact that Facebook is the formal owner of WhatsApp and the instant messaging platform is said to be sharing its data with the parent company does not mean that it is a necessary party to the investigation.

“The fact that WhatsApp shares something with me is not grounds for initiating an investigation against me,” he said.

“The fact that WhatsApp can share items with certain people does not mean that all of them can be necessary parties. These policies are not my policy. Whether this violates the right to privacy remains to be seen, but just because they share it with X, Y. or Z is not grounds for an investigation against me,” he said.

The bench, which set the matter for further hearing on July 25, was considering appeals by WhatsApp LLC and Facebook Inc challenging the single judge’s decision to dismiss their case against the CCI’s investigation into the instant messaging platform’s updated privacy policy.

During the hearing, senior lawyer Harish Salwe, representing WhatsApp, stated that they were not contesting the investigation, but contesting the CCI’s jurisdiction to investigate the matter.

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He said the CCI was investigating its privacy policy, which had not been shelved, and because the government was in the process of introducing a data protection bill, the cause of action on the matter was gone.

Senior Attorney Parag Tripathi, speaking for Facebook India, said it had nothing to do with the privacy policy, but CCI included him in the investigation nonetheless.

Arguments on behalf of WhatsApp, Facebook Inc and Facebook India have concluded and the court will hear arguments from CCI’s lawyer on July 28.

On Thursday, the CCI told the court it was unable to “move an inch” in its 2021 WhatsApp privacy policy investigation due to a court order giving Facebook and the instant messaging platform time to file responses to the incident. probe .

It said the litigation was “virtually on hold” and the antitrust regulator should be allowed to investigate and Facebook and WhatsApp should be asked to provide their responses.

On January 3, the panel, chaired by then Chief Justice D.N. Patel, extended the timeline for Facebook and WhatsApp to file responses to two CCI notices dated June 2021 asking for certain information for the purposes of its ongoing investigation.

The court on Thursday noted orally that “there was no order to stay” the investigation and opined that both companies should file their response with the CCI.

The lawyer who spoke for the appellants said that their appeals would become fruitless if interim protection was lifted and said that a preliminary answer had already been filed with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Last January, CCI independently decided to examine WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy based on news reports about the same.

WhatsApp and Facebook subsequently challenged the March 2021 ruling by CCI’s sole judge to open an investigation against them, stating that the issue regarding their new policy was already pending before the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court.

However, on April 22 last year, the single judge refused to stop the investigation conducted by the CCI.

The single judge opined that while it would be “prudent” for the CCI to await the outcome of the petitions in the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court against WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, failure to do so would not make the regulator’s order “perverse”. or “lack of jurisdiction”.

The CCI argued before a single judge that it does not address the alleged breach of privacy, which is being considered by the Supreme Court.

He argued in court that WhatsApp’s new privacy policy would lead to excessive data collection and “harassment” of consumers for targeted advertising in order to attract more users, and is therefore an alleged abuse of dominance.

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