CCI probe: WhatsApp tells Delhi High Court new privacy policy is on hold

WhatsApp on Friday told the Delhi High Court it is placing on hold its new privacy policy till the Personal Data Protection Bill (PDP) comes into force. The well known messaging platform, throughout the course of the hearing in the matter exactly where it is in search of to retrain Competition Commission of India (CCI) from probing the anti-competitive nature of its new policy, also mentioned it would enforce the new privacy policy only if the PDP makes it possible for it.

WhatsApp placing on hold the privacy policy implies it would not quit any feature or functionality of customers who have not accepted its terms and circumstances which came into force from May 15. However, it would continue to send updates and messages to such customers concerning the new privacy policy. This is anything which WhatsApp has mentioned due to the fact the time it implemented the new privacy policy, that is May 15.

“We voluntarily agreed to put it (the new policy) on hold…we will not compel people to accept…The government has asked to shut down our policy. We have said we will not enforce it till Data Protection Bill comes out. That is open-ended because we don’t know when the Bill is going to come out…We have said we will not do this for a while. Suppose the Bill allows me to do it, we will have completely different ramifications,” senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for WhatsApp, told a division bench comprising Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh.

“We replied to the ministry of electronics and information technology’s (MeitY) notice seeking a response, saying that WhatsApp will not limit functionality for some time and continue to show users the updated version…We will maintain this approach until Data Protection Bill comes into force. We have voluntarily agreed to put the update on hold till then,” Salve added.

The bench, having said that, questioned WhatsApp on no matter whether it has a distinctive yardstick or policy for Indian customers compared with European customers. “Do you have a different yardstick or policy for India? Allegation is that you collect data, give it to others. You can’t do it without user consent,” Justice Patel asked Salve.

Stating that there is a distinction in between the challenge to privacy policy and the challenge to the CCI probe, Salve assured the judges that no one can study finish-to-finish encrypted messages beneath the new policy. However, he mentioned WhatsApp only has the external shell of information, which it has been told is a dilemma.

The HC then adjourned the case for additional hearing on July 30 even as WhatsApp sought 15 days to file its reply to the CCI’s notice.

Urging the bench to defer the hearing due to the fact a comparable case is slated to be heard by the apex court on July 22, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Facebook, questioned how can “sparingly used” suo motu jurisdiction was exercised by CCI when larger constitutional bodies had been examining the concern. He pointed to pending situations on WhatsApp’s 2016 privacy policy in the Supreme Court and several benches of the Delhi HC, submitting that CCI should really exercising prudence by waiting for the outcome of court situations alternatively of jumping the gun.

Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi on behalf of CCI alleged that Facebook and WhatsApp had been in violation of the Competition Act and mere non-implementation does not finish the existence of the policy itself.

Citing orders by the HiC’s holiday bench last month which didn’t stall the probe, CCI argued that the policy pretty considerably exists as of today. “They are not enforcing compliance. But the policy is in place, it is not the statement of WhatsApp that they are giving it up. As long as policy stands, competition law issues persist…”

The HC is hearing appeals by WhatsApp and Facebook against the CCI’s March 24 choice ordering probe into the updated privacy policy of WhatsApp for breaching the antitrust law. “CCI is of prima facie opinion that the ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ nature of privacy policy and terms of service of WhatsApp and the information-sharing stipulations mentioned therein, merit a detailed investigation in view of the market position and market power enjoyed by WhatsApp,” the CCI order had stated. The CCI in January had on its personal decided to look into WhatsApp’s new privacy policy on the basis of news reports.

The single judge had earlier on April 22 rejected the petitions by Facebook and WhatsApp, saying although it would have been “prudent” for the CCI to await the outcome of petitions in the SC and the Delhi HC against WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, not carrying out so would not make the regulator’s order “perverse” or “wanting of jurisdiction”.

Originally appeared on: TheSpuzz