Interestingly, Facebook claimed that it shouldn’t be investigated since its social media business and the WhatsApp messaging platform are different entities. But at the same time, it also asserted that the competition watchdog should present evidence of WhatsApp’s dominance before being allowed to investigate.
“Today’s consumers value non-price parameters of services viz. quality, customer service, innovation, etc. as equally if not more important as price. The competitors in the market also compete on the basis of such non-price parameters. Reduction in consumer data protection and loss of control over their personalised data by the users can be taken as reduction in quality under the antitrust law,” said the CCI order in late March.
In the lawsuit ‘Dr Seema Singh v. Union Of India’, the court had last month sought responses from the central government and had listed March 19, 2021, as the next date of hearing.
In its counter-affidavit, the government has contended that pending the passing of the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the rules made under it, constitute the data protection regime in the country, which WhatsApp would be violating with its new policy.