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Competition Commission of India on Predatory Pricing and Privacy Policy of WhatsApp Inc.

In a recent judgment by the Competition Commission of India [CCI], by the bench headed by Mr. Devender Kumar Sikri Chairperson in the case of Vinod Kumar Gupta vs. Whatsapp Inc. [decided on June 1, 2017 ], it has been held that even though ‘WhatsApp’ appeared to be dominant in the relevant market, the allegations of predatory pricing had no substance and the WhatsApp had not contravened any of the provisions of Section 4 of the Competition Act.

Vinod Kumar Gupta, the Informant had filed Information under Section 19(1)(a) of the Competition Act, 2002 (the ‘Act’) against WhatsApp Inc., alleging contravention of the provisions of Section 4 of the Act.

It was stated that the WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook Inc. (‘Facebook’), the largest social networking site, on 19th February, 2014 for approximately US$19.3 billion.

As per the Informant, WhatsApp had introduced many changes to its privacy policy on 25th August, 2016 whereby the users of ‘WhatsApp’ were forced to share their account details and other information with ‘Facebook’ in order to continue availing the services of ‘WhatsApp’.

The Informant had made the submission that the “relevant product market” in this scenario would be ‘free messaging App available to smartphones’ and the relevant geographical market was ‘Global’.
As per the Informant, by removing subscription fees, WhatsApp has enlarged its consumer base substantially from 450 million to over 1 billion and it is providing the services by sourcing funds from its parent company i.e. ‘Facebook’.

The Commission also observed the submission of WhatsApp regarding its users safeguards that all types of ‘WhatsApp’ messages (including chats, group chats, images, videos, voice messages and files) and ‘WhatsApp’ calls are protected by end-to-end encryption so that third parties and ‘WhatsApp’ cannot read them and also the message can only be decrypted by the recipient.

Further, as stated by WhatsApp, nothing a user shares on ‘WhatsApp’, including his/ her messages, photos, and account information, is be shared onto ‘Facebook’ or any other apps of ‘Facebook family of companies’ for any third party to see, and nothing a user posts on those apps will be shared by ‘WhatsApp’ for any third party to see.

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GOVERNMENT MAKES RULES TO PREVENT PUBLIC SLAUGHTER OF ANIMALS

 

The Environment and Forests Ministry has notified rules under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, banning the sale of buffaloes and cows for slaughtering in the animal markets.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 permits animal trade only between farmland owners. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 have also been notified by the Central government. This notification covers steers, buffaloes, heifers, buffaloes, cows, bulls and calves, and also on trade of camel.  These rules also mandate an undertaking stating that the animals bought under the transaction are bought for trade purposes only and not for slaughter.

Rules also provide for constituting District Animal Market Monitoring Committee, which shall regulate the animal market in the district. These rules further prohibit many prohibit many practices as “cruel and harmful”. These include the methods for animal identification, painting and shearing of horns, ear cutting of buffaloes, using any harmful chemical on the body parts of the animals. The person incharge of animal shall also ensure that no injury, pain or suffering has been inflicted upon the animal.

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WannaCry: India more prone to Risks

WannaCry, also known as WannaCrypt has infected around 45,000 computers across 74 countries. WannaCry is a kind of ransomware which encrypts the computers data in seconds and displays a message on the screen asking the user to pay amount of $ 300 in Bitcoins to decrypt the data and restore user’s access. This ransomware has targeted Microsoft Windows devices specifically. According to Microsoft it had released the security update addressing the vulnerability posed by such attacks.

In India, most official computers use windows, there is no surety of regular updates, thus the risk of Indian computers being attacked by this worm is very high. Personal data of billions of Indians is now connected to the Aadhar database. Even the user’s bank account is now linked to the Aadhar number; this ransomware can encrypt the entire database and make it inaccessible until the ransom is paid. A greater chunk of individuals and companies are using the pirated versions of the Windows operating system and other miscellaneous softwares which makes India an easy target. In India this ransomware has already infected the Andhra Pradesh police system, manufacturing companies, retailers, banks and a Chennai based automaker facility.

A distinctive feature of this ransomware is that it also works as a worm. It spreads across like a contagious disease, from one system to another. Indian computers are most vulnerable to attacks owing to lack of antispyware or malware software installed in their systems. WannaCry is a mutating ransomware; it changes with time and spreads in the network.

Indian Computer Emergency Response Team says, “The ransomware called WannaCrypt or WannaCry encrypts the computer’s hard disk drive and then spreads laterally between computers on the same LAN. The ransomware also spreads through malicious attachments to emails.” Microsoft too has grieved over the matter.

Even if the virus is on spread, the ransomware baiters would be receiving money and might come up with irrepressible worms against which the best of security patches will prove ineffective.

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PCB v BCCI: This is no friendly match!

 

The Pakistan Cricket Board has forwarded a legal notice to the Board of Control for Cricket in India for dishonouring the Memorandum of Understanding between the two. The MoU signed between PCB and BCCI was on the terms that they agreed to play six bilateral series from 2015 to 2023. The MoU has not received clearance on the schedule of series due to strained diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan.

Under the said agreement, India and Pakistan were scheduled to play in the month of November – December 2015, but India refused to play on neutral grounds like Saudi Arabia or Sri Lanka

The PCB while taking advice from an English Law Firm claims that due to the refusal of India to play the series which was supposed to be hosted by Pakistan, they have lost about $200-300 million. The PCB notice claims that due to India’s repeated refusal, three series have not been played since 2015, two of them which Pakistan was supposed to host.

The PCB has initiated the legal process through a Notice of Dispute under the Dispute Resolution Committee Terms of reference of the International Cricket Council.

 

 

 

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Roche in Problème juridique

The Competition Commission of India has initiated an inquiry regarding unfair trade practices by F. Hoffmann-La Roche.  In the month of July last year Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Biocon Limited had approached the CCI, alleging that Roche was involved in anti-competitive practices with regards to their breast cancer medicine: Trastuzumab.

The CCI, prima facie has found some substance in the allegation of misuse of dominant status by F. Hoffmann-La Roche. An inquiry has been ordered by the CCI the report of which is too be submitted within 60 days.

La Roche has been accused of influencing regulatory authorities, raising unwarranted concerns regarding the efficacy of biosimilars. The Pharma giant is also accused of stalling the approvals and marketing of biosimilars.

Trastuzumab is a biological drug for the treatment of Breast Cancer. Biocon manufactures a biosimilar to this drug. La Roche has apparently approached a few hospitals and raise unwarranted claims and questions about the efficacy of such biosimilars. It is also alleged that women are practically forced by hospitals into using La Roche’s Trastuzumab for their treatment. If they refuse of intend to use a cheaper alternative, they are either refused treatment, or cautioned that the hospital shall bear no responsibility for adverse consequences.

The CCI in its 36 page order referred to an ongoing Delhi High Litigation between La Roche and Biocon, where Roch has questioned the approval of Biocon’s products, has observed that there are questionable practices adopted by Roche to create a negative image about biosimilars. The CCI’s order also mentions that Roche has adopted legal methods to delay the launch of biosimilars, like the launch of TrastuRel , the biosimilar version by Reliance Life Science’s was delayed by almost a year because of the law suit instituted by Roche against them in the Delhi High Court.