Reserving its decision, the court had observed that the order of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) does not reflect an investigation into abuse of dominant position and rather appears to be concerned with privacy issues of consumers.
The observation had come in response to the CCI’s stand that it was not examining the alleged violation of individuals’ privacy which was being looked into by the Supreme Court.
It further said, “There is no question of jurisdictional error,” adding that WhatsApp and Facebook’s pleas challenging its decision were “incompetent and misconceived”.
CCI also told the court that only after the investigation can it be determined whether the data collection by WhatsApp and sharing it with Facebook would amount to an anti-competitive practice or abuse of dominant position.
It had also contended that the data collected, which would include an individual’s location, the kind of device used, their internet service provider, and whom they are conversing with, would lead to the creation of a customer profile and preference which would be monetised by way of targeted advertising and all this amounts to “stalking”.
They also said that the CCI’s decision was an abuse of the commission’s suo motu jurisdiction, claiming that the CCI in the instant case has “drifted far away” from the competition aspect and was looking into the privacy issue which was already being looked into by the apex court and the Delhi High Court.
They further contended that private conversations continued to be protected by end-to-end encryption and WhatsApp cannot read what people message each other. Most of the data generated belonged to WhatsApp as the only data provided by customers was their phone number which is required to register on the messaging platform, the added.
(With Agency Inputs)