The Parliamentary Committee on IT wants not just the Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey but Facebook and Google as well to appear before it, according to a senior member of the mutli-party panel.
Speaking to The Quint, the member, who was present at the Committee meeting on Monday, 11 February, said that he felt it wouldn’t be entirely fair to just focus on Twitter in election season. Instead, several members of the 31-member Committee are learned to be of the opinion that all the major tech players operating in India need to be summoned.
The 31-member Committee currently has 21 members from the Lok Sabha and 10 members from the Rajya Sabha. At present, it comprises 13 MPs of the BJP, including Thakur and LK Advani and five Congress MPs.
This is a significant development prior to the Lok Sabha elections in April, especially in the wake of social media and messaging platforms being accused of amplifying misinformation, curtailing citizens’ rights to speech and political bias.
“Many of us members of the Committee have advised Chairman Anurag Thakur during the meeting on Monday to not just single out Twitter but also summon the other big platforms like Facebook and Google and hear their policies before the upcoming elections.”Member, Parliamentary IT Committee
This development comes on the heels of Committee Chairman, BJP MP Anurag Thakur saying that the Committee had taken “very serious note of” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s failure to honour the summon sent to him to appear before a hearing on 11 February.
‘Want CEO or Other Senior Executive Only’
The member also clarified that the Committee was interesting in meeting only the CEO or under special circumstances, senior officials with details of the company’s policies.
On Monday, the Committee had declined to meet other Twitter executives, including Twitter India representatives during their meeting, which is reported to have lasted an hour. Dorsey has now been summoned for a hearing on 25 February.
“We want to meet the CEO. We may also meet other similar senior official who can answer our questions,” he told The Quint.
Twitter, however, has not confirmed if Dorsey will be available for the next summon either.
The member did not clarify if the Committee specifically wanted to summon Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai. He however, clarified they were interested in meeting only the CEOs.
If summoned, they are likely to be allotted dates on the same week as Dorsey’s new hearing date on 25 February.
“I raised the point with Anurag Thakur at the meeting that the other should be given adequate notice of at least two-weeks and summoned around the 25th. We want to hear what all of them have to say especially with elections approaching,” he told The Quint.