While dismissing the petition, Justice Navin Chawla observed that the court did not find any merits in the petition and hence refused to quash the investigation.
The decision comes through even as the High Court had recently stated that the probe is not consistent with a ‘abuse of dominance’ investigation. It had noted that the investigation appears to be more concerned with the privacy of users.
Arguments of the parties
There were 3 concerned parties, WhatsApp, represented by Sr. Adv. Harish Salve, Facebook, represented by Sr. Adv. Mukul Rohatgi, and ASG Aman Lekhi for the CCI.
WhatsApp argued that the CCI’s order was infringing upon an issue which does not fall in its jurisdiction. Rather, it is for the government to legislate on the issue of excessive data collection leading to anti-competitive implications.
Regarding privacy, it further argued that the policy is aimed to bring in more transparency with regard to how it collects user data and emphasized that WhatsApp can’t read conversations since the messages are still end-to-end encrypted.
Competition Commission of India
The Competition Commission on the other hand argued that the issue at hand did not pertain to privacy but to access to data, making it imperative for it to act. It further added that it will come into the picture only if the investigation suggests there there is in fact an abuse of dominant position by the petitioner.
“The question was whether in a data driven eco-system whether excessive data sharing or use would result in anti-competitive consequence….The analysis of the data collected by WhatsApp will give even more information about an individual than actual physical stalking.”
Explaining the abuse of dominance, it added,
Cases pending in Judicial Forums
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