The CCI has directed its investigative arm to complete the investigation and submit its report within 60 days, noting that a thorough and detailed investigation was necessary to ascertain the full extent, scope and impact of data sharing between WhatsApp and Facebook group of companies through involuntary consent of users.
“We look forward to engaging with the CCI. WhatsApp remains committed to protecting people’s personal communications with end-to-end encryption and providing transparency about how these new optional business features work,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement to Entrackr.
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment until publication.
“Simply put, it appears that consent to sharing and integration of user data with other Facebook Companies for a range of purposes including marketing and advertising has been made a precondition for availing WhatsApp service,” the order said. This “take-it-or-leave-it” nature of the policy merits a detailed investigation into market position and power enjoyed by WhatsApp, it said.
In a public version of its submission filed on February 25, WhatsApp had asked the CCI to not look into the issue since it had postponed the implementation of its policy to April 15 and that abuse of dominance is a post-facto analysis and called the scrutiny “premature”.
However, the CCI said that it was examining WhatsApp’s proposed updates from a competition lens.
Facebook was also asked by the CCI to submit its comments in January, but it did not respond to the regulator’s queries despite clear directions. The commission had then asked Facebook to submit its response by February 25.
In its submission, Facebook told the commission to not include it as a party to the case. However, the regulator found Facebook’s response to be evasive.