A single-judge bench of the Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea by Facebook India Online Services, a subsidiary of social media platform Meta, against the probe by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) in relation to WhatsApp's privacy policy of 2021. The CCI is investigating WhatsApp and Facebook for infringement of user privacy as well as violations of competition norms, through their privacy policy. 

While noting that the plea by Facebook has already been dismissed by the division bench, Justice Yashwant Varma said in the court that there has to be some end to the “luxury to litigate.” “With all due respect, you suddenly wake up now and challenge the order. Enough is enough. There has to be some end to luxury to litigate,” Justice Varma said.

Facebook India said it was aggrieved by the clubbing order without any prima facie. Senior Advocate Parag Tripathi, who is representing Facebook India said in the court, “There has to be a prima facie case which directs the Director General to cause any investigation. I am aggrieved by the clubbing order. The allegations made are exactly the same. I am a subsidiary but not involved in any policy-making.”

In August this year, Justice Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad dismissed Facebook’s plea against the CCI probe saying that the previous order by the single-bench judge was well-reasoned, and the appeals made by Facebook and WhatsApp are devoid of merits. Last year, a single-judge bench of the Delhi High Court refused to interdict the CCI investigation against WhatsApp and Facebook. 

In January last year, the anti-trust regulator launched a probe against WhatsApp in relation to the infringement of the user’s privacy as the social media messaging platform shares users’ data with Meta, its parent company. In March last year, the CCI’s director general launched an investigation against Facebook India, making it an opposite party, by saying that Facebook is the parent company of the social media platform and can potentially exploit the data. The anti-trust regulator also said that the excess data collection by the messaging platform can lead to targeted advertising of consumers, thus putting it in a dominant position in the market and violating the existing competition norms in India. 

Meanwhile, WhatsApp has argued the regulator cannot investigate its privacy policy as it has been kept in abeyance until the introduction of the revised data protection bill. In August this year, the government pulled back the data protection bill saying a revised bill will be introduced soon.

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