Parliament Panel Calls Facebook, Twitter To Discuss Data Protection Bill

NDTV, October 23, 2020

Senior officials of social media giants Facebook and Twitter have been asked to appear before a joint parliamentary committee regarding data protection and privacy issues. The committee, which is looking into the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, following concerns expressed by the Congress, has called all stakeholders to get an overview.

The Facebook officials have to make a presentation on the bill before the committee at 11 am on Friday.  The presentation of Twitter officials will take place on October 28, according to a notice issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.

On Thursday, it was the turn of the Forum For Integrated Security, Mumbai, which met the committee at the Parliament House in the afternoon.

The agenda note of the committee headed by BJP parliamentarian Meenakshi Lekhi, read, “Oral evidence by the representatives of Facebook India Online Services Pvt. Ltd. on The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019”.

While introducing the draft bill in parliament last year, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said  it empowers the government to ask companies — Facebook, Google and others — for anonymous personal and non-personal data.

But the opposition Congress had concerns regarding the use of such data in some cases, especially where national security is involved.

A section of legal experts had also flagged the issue, saying the provision will give the government unaccounted access to personal data of users. The matter was subsequently referred to the joint parliamentary committee headed by Ms Lekhi.

“Whosoever is required, an individual or an entity, will be asked to depose before the panel on the issue of protection of data and its privacy and their respective social media platforms will be thoroughly examined by the panel,” news agency Press Trust of India quoted Meenakshi Lekhi as saying.

The committee has representatives from across the political spectrum and the deliberations on the bill are being held from the “national interest perspective,” she added.

“It would be inappropriate and unfair to look at the calling of social media platform from the political prism,” the BJP MP said.

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