The CCI was looking into the competition aspect and not the alleged violation of individuals’ privacy which was being looked into by the Supreme Court, Lekhi said. “There is no question of jurisdictional error,” he said and added that WhatsApp and Facebook’s pleas challenging the CCI’s decision were “incompetent and misconceived”.
The high court which reserved its order in the matter was told by Lekhi that whether the data collection by WhatsApp and sharing it with Facebook would amount to an anti-competitive practice or abuse of dominant position can be determined only after the investigation.
He argued 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 creation of a customer profile and preference which would be monetised by way of targeted advertising and all this amounts to “stalking”.
He also said that the investigation ordered was only an administrative proceeding which did not have any civil consequence at this stage.
They contended that CCI’s decision was an abuse of the commission’s suo motu jurisdiction. They said the issue of the policy being unfair to consumers was being considered by the apex court and therefore, CCI ought not to have taken up the issue.