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HC refuses to stay CCI notice to WhatsApp against its new privacy policy

CCI had launched an investigation into WhatsApp’s new privacy policy on 24 March.

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New Delhi: In a major setback for Facebook-owned WhatsApp, the Delhi high court on Wednesday refused to stay the Competition Commission of India's (CCI) notice to the US-based social media giant seeking information for a probe into its controversial new privacy policy. 

The vacation bench said an application seeking stay of further steps in the investigation already stands filed in which notice was issued to the Director General of CCI in which no interim relief was given by the division bench on 6 May and is listed for consideration on 9 July, adding that, "at this stage, it does not consider it appropriate to stay the operation of impugned notice dated 4 June at this stage."

CCI had launched an investigation into WhatsApp’s new privacy policy on 24 March, amid the raging debate over users’ privacy on social media platforms. The antitrust body had taken a prima facie view that the messaging app’s new policy is in contravention of India’s Competition Act. 

On the other hand, the two social media platforms had contended that when the top court was looking into the privacy policy, then CCI ought not to have intervened in the issue. WhatsApp had also told the court that private conversations continued to be protected by end-to-end encryption and WhatsApp cannot read what people message each other.

The US company had sought a stay on the CCI's 4 June notice seeking information into the privacy policy and urged the court to issue directions to authorities concerned not to take any coercive action against the messaging application till the next date of hearing. Facebook and WhatsApp had also filed a fresh plea against a single judge order issued on 22 April dismissing their pleas against the probe CCI ordered into the instant messaging app's new privacy policy. 

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