Elections, Citizen Data Top Priorities: Parl Panel to Facebook

The committee has asked tech giants to give a clear reply on its concerns within 10 days.

2 min read
The committee has asked tech giants to give a clear reply on its concerns regarding Lok Sabha elections, national security and protecting citizens’ data.

At a meeting with Facebook's Global Policy Vice President Joel Kaplan, the Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology has told officials from Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram that in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, national security and protecting citizens’ data are the panel's top priorities, news agency ANI reported on Wednesday, 6 March.

At the hearing, Kaplan not only laid down the social media platform’s policies for the upcoming elections but also apologied for remarks made by Facebook’s employees on Pulwama attack.

We are very grateful to the honourable Parliamentary Committee for giving us the opportunity to come and share how we are preparing for the Indian election and helping keep people in India safe on our platform.
Joel Kaplan, Facebook, Vice President, Global Public Policy 

After meeting Kaplan on Friday, panel chief Anurag Thakur said that the social media giant has accepted there is a need for corrective measures and that it is ready to implement them. He said that the company will be in touch with the Election Commission to work on information provided by the concerned ministries.

The committee has also asked the tech giants to give a clear reply on its concerns within 10 days. 

When asked by the committee if the platform is serving the society or dividing it, Facebook said that it is a “hybrid company" and failed to clearly answer which regulatory framework applies to its content, advertising and marketing operations in India.

Kaplan, during his meeting with the committee, apologised for remarks made by Facebook employees on terrorism and Pulwama attacks.

The committee had summoned the representatives of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram on 6 March. Both WhatsApp and Instagram are owned by Facebook.

The Parliamentary Committee on IT – that met on Monday, 25 February, to question Twitter Vice President Colin Crowell – saw fewer than one-third of the panel’s members in attendance.

According to the Lok Sabha website, only nine of the 31 members were present during the meeting with Crowell.

After the meeting with Twitter VP, the committee asked the platform to ensure that the upcoming Lok Sabha elections are “not undermined and influenced by foreign entities” – and granted 10 days to CEO Jack Dorsey to respond in writing to questions that remained unanswered. Thakur also indicated that they may be summoned again before the committee.

(With ANI inputs.)

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