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An Indian court has dismissed Facebook’s petition to stop the probe into WhatsApp’s privacy policy

Illustration of 3D printed Facebook and WhatsApp logos and keyboard buttons on a computer motherboard
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The Delhi high court on Thursday dismissed petitions filed by Facebook and WhatsApp against a Competition Commission of India (CCI) order to investigate the messaging platform’s new privacy policy, Bar and Bench reported.

On March 24, CCI had directed its investigation arm, the director general, to complete the inquiry within 60 days after prima facie finding that the Facebook-owned company has violated competition law provisions through its “exploitative and exclusionary conduct” under the garb of the policy update.

However, both WhatsApp and Facebook in their petition argued that a case about the new privacy policy was already being heard by the supreme court and the high court. And so, they said, the CCI need not order an investigation.

During Thursday’s hearing, a bench of Justice Navin Chawla said the order for an inquiry cannot be quashed merely because the anti-trust regulator did not wait for the verdict of the cases pending before the supreme court and high court. WhatsApp claimed the commission “jumped the gun” by starting suo motu proceedings, adding that the investigation was a “headline-grabbing endeavour.”

The judge said he found no merits in the petitions filed by Facebook and WhatsApp, according to Live Law.

Last month, the centre had also requested the Delhi high court to restrain WhatsApp from implementing its new privacy policy till a decision is made on the petitions challenging its validity.

The messaging platform had announced changes to its privacy policy on Jan. 4. Questions were raised about how the company was forcing users to agree to share their information with Facebook if they want to keep using the service.

According to WhatsApp, the update does not expand the platform’s ability to share data with Facebook but intends to give users further transparency about how it collects, uses and shares information.

The Competition Commission said the veracity of these claims by WhatsApp would be examined during the investigation. It added that users, who are owners of their personalised data, are entitled to be informed about the extent, scope and precise purpose of sharing such information with other Facebook companies.

On Feb. 15, the supreme court had directed WhatsApp to give an undertaking that private data of users was not being shared with a third party. The court told the messaging platform that people valued their privacy more than money.

After this, WhatsApp had indicated that it would go ahead with its controversial privacy policy and announced an outreach exercise to familiarise users with it. The company had initially said that would push back the changes to May 15 from Feb. 8.

This post first appeared on Scroll.in. We welcome your comments at ideas.india@qz.com.

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