Tharoor: House panel has sought nod to call FB whistleblower

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Indian Expresss, November 02, 2021

“With its agenda official, the Committee will hold its first meetings of the new session on Nov 16 & 17. Under our procedures videoconferencing is not permitted. Testimony in person by witnesses from abroad requires the Speaker’s consent. That is being sought,” he said in a tweet.

PERMISSION HAS been sought from Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to call a Facebook whistleblower to depose before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, panel chairman and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said on Monday.

“With its agenda official, the Committee will hold its first meetings of the new session on Nov 16 & 17. Under our procedures videoconferencing is not permitted. Testimony in person by witnesses from abroad requires the Speaker’s consent. That is being sought,” he said in a tweet.

Frances Haugen, a former Facebook data scientist-turned-whistleblower, has released a series of documents that revealed that the products of the social network giant harmed mental health of teenage girls, and that it resisted changes that could make its platform less divisive because it “put its profits before people”. Haugen has testified before the US Senate Committee.

Tharoor was responding to allegations that neither the Indian Parliament nor the government has expressed any desire to hear from the Facebook whistleblowers yet.

He pointed out that the IT parliamentary panel did not exist between September 12 and October 12. It was officially reconstituted in the second week of October. When it first met on October 21, the committee adopted its agenda. It had to then adopt its agenda, submit it to the Speaker and have it bulletinised before it could convene any meeting, he said.

Sources said the rules of procedures for the standing committees say it requires the Speaker’s consent for any foreign witness to be invited before the panels.

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