Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp on Friday told the Delhi High Court that it has “voluntarily agreed to put on hold” the application’s new privacy policy, reported Bar and Bench.

The submission was made in the High Court, which was hearing WhatsApp’s appeal challenging a June 23 High Court order refusing to interfere with the Competition Commission of India’s investigation against the platform’s new privacy policy. A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh took up the matter.

On May 17, WhatsApp had said that it was trying to get users on board to accept the new policies, but in case they do not do so, their accounts will slowly be deleted. But on May 25, WhatsApp clarified that it will not limit its functions for users who do not accept the new privacy policy.

WhatsApp has issued several clarifications in an attempt to assuage privacy concerns of users.

The messaging platform’s counsel Harish Salve on Friday said that the platform will continue to show the new privacy policy update from time to time.

“We said we [WhatsApp] will not enforce it [the new privacy policy] until Data Protection Bill will come out,” WhatsApp’s counsel told the High Court. “In our case, the government is the administrator of the rules and we said okay we will wait till the Data Protection Bill. The government will decide this. Then comes the competition dimensions of the practice. We said we will not do it.”

The draft data protection bill proposes to put restrictions on the use of personal information of people without their explicit consent. The items covered by the draft bill on data protection include consent, personal data, exemptions that can be granted, storage restrictions for personal data and individual rights.

Salve on Friday said that the case mainly pertains to the messaging platform’s new privacy policy. He added that if the Data Protection Bill is enforced later, WhatsApp will abide by the law.

“The commitment is that I [WhatsApp] will not do anything if the parliamentary law comes,” Salve said, according to Live Law.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook, raised doubts on the jurisdiction of the Competition Commission of India to begin the investigation.

“Supreme Court is hearing [an] appeal against WhatsApp’s privacy policy,” Facebook’s counsel said, according to Bar and Bench. “Even assuming there is suo motu jurisdiction, can this matter be inquired into by CCI when it is before a superior constitutional authority?”

After Facebook’s submission, Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, representing the Competition Commission of India, said the body was not enforcing compliance but “as long as policy stands, competition law issues persist”.

During the hearing, WhatsApp asked for two to three weeks to reply to the Competition Commission of India’s notices. The matter was then adjourned till July 30.

The new privacy policy

In January, WhatsApp had sent its users a notification that it was preparing a new privacy policy, and it reserved the right to share some user data with Facebook.

However, after facing massive backlash and with millions of users moving to other messaging platforms such as Signal and Telegram, WhatsApp decided to defer the changes to May 15. The company said it will do more to clear misinformation about the policy.

After its May 17 announcement, WhatsApp had said there was no universal or uniform time limit after which it will start to delete accounts as each user would be dealt with on a case-to-case basis. The platform’s new privacy policy came into effect on May 15.

On June 3, the central government claimed before the Delhi High Court that messaging platform WhatsApp was acquiring “trick consent” from users for its new privacy policy. The Centre also argued that the platform should stop sending the notifications to a user and claimed that its actions were against “the very grain of prima facie opinion of the Competition Commission of India’s order” passed on March 24.

On May 14, in an affidavit submitted to the Delhi High Court, WhatsApp had stated that the policy update was not mandatory and users had the option of deleting their account or not using it. The affidavit also named a number of private companies, including Google, and state-owned companies Aarogya Setu, and IRCTC, which WhatsApp claimed have a privacy policy similar to its update.