According to a Bar and Bench report, senior counsel Harish Salve, representing WhatsApp in a hearing on April 13, had said that the matter is already pending before the Supreme Court and the investigation taken up by CCI is just a “headline-grabbing endeavour”. He added that WhatsApp cannot ‘see’ any user conversations and all the conversations are protected by end-to-end encryption. Besides this, all the messages are deleted from the company’s servers after they are delivered.
“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 order.
Formally launched in January, the ADIF’s executive council consists of investors, startup founders and chief executives such as Murugavel Janakiraman of Bharat Matrimony, Snehil Khanor of TrulyMadly, Ritesh Mallik of Innov8, Ajay Data of Data XGen Technologies, Sairee Chahal of SHEROES and Anand Lunia of India Quotient.
The petition, a copy of which has been reviewed by Inc42, says that WhatsApp adding UPI payments is illegal and it should be stopped. The ADIF petition also makes the contention that WhatsApp is biased in its approach to the privacy of Indian users, as it has offered a better policy in Europe under the General Data Protection Rights (GDPR) regulation.
Interestingly, amid a series of data breaches in the country, the ADIF has requested the SC to hold that a data fiduciary — meaning companies and organisations that hold user data — should be made liable for any data leak on their platforms. Since it is not clear yet if the courts have jurisdiction over data fiduciaries in the absence of a data protection law, the petition also requested to settle the question. The Personal Data Protection Bill, which aims to provide a legal framework for data protection in the country, is yet to be passed as law.