Several MPs in the meeting suggested to Lekhi to write back to Amazon and explain the importance of the committee and the consequences it could face if it did not appear before the panel.

US-headquartered on-line retailer Amazon has refused to seem earlier than Parliament’s joint committee on the info safety invoice subsequent week, which may quantity to a breach of parliamentary privilege, panel chairperson Meenakshi Lekhi stated on Friday, indicating that motion could also be taken towards the corporate.

Facebook’s coverage head for India Ankhi Das, in the meantime, appeared earlier than the panel on the problem of information safety on Friday, and was questioned by members on income and promoting fashions, the hiring course of in addition to “neutrality” throughout the organisation. It was given two weeks’ time to submit written replies to the questions. The panel has summoned officers of Twitter on October 28, and Google and Paytm on October 29 as a part of its investigation into points of information safety, synthetic intelligence and privateness.

“The panel is unanimous in its opinion that coercive action can be suggested to the government against the e-commerce company. Amazon has refused to appear before the panel on October 28 and if no one on behalf of the e-commerce company appears before the panel it amounts to breach of privilege,” Lekhi stated.

After Amazon was requested to attend the assembly on October 28, it replied on October eight to the panel’s letter expressing incapability to attend as there isn’t any common transportation from the US to India, due to which the corporate’s representatives can’t come from California, stated two members of the panel who didn’t want to be named.

According to a different functionary conscious of the matter, Amazon wrote to the committee that it might be unable to attend on account of dangers related to journey through the Covid-19 pandemic. “Owing to the current circumstances and the risks associated with travelling, our subject matter experts who are based overseas will not be able to appear for the deposition. We will therefore have to decline the request for the deposition,” the corporate’s letter to the committee stated.

“Unlike many other entities who seek time or request an alternative schedule for deposition, Amazon did not ask for any such relaxation. They simply conveyed that they can’t come,” stated one of many members cited above.

In response to a question from HT, Amazon stated: “We have the utmost respect and regard for the important work being done by the JPC on the PDP Bill and have already offered our written submissions for consideration of this august Committee. We will continue to engage in any way the JPC considers fit. The inability of our experts to travel from overseas due to travel restriction and depose before the JPC during the ongoing pandemic may have been misconstrued and led to a misunderstanding and we will work with the JPC to set the record straight.”

Several MPs within the assembly urged to Lekhi to put in writing again to Amazon and clarify the significance of the committee and the implications it may face if it didn’t seem earlier than the panel.

“Amazon should know that it is not an option. Parliament rules are absolutely clear that if an entity is asked to appear before the panel, it is mandatory. This is a committee formed by members from both houses of Parliament,” stated an MP.

“It was also suggested that the panel should inform the ministries of commerce and information technology about Amazon’s stand over the issue of deposition because if any action is to be taken against the company, the government has to decide it,” stated the MP.

Facebook stated in a press release that it backed the efforts in direction of knowledge safety.

“We deeply appreciate the opportunity to discuss data regulation issues with the Hon’ble Members of Joint Committee on the Personal Data Protection Bill. We believe that India’s data protection law has the potential to propel the country’s digital economy and global digital trade, and we wholeheartedly support this effort. That is why we deeply appreciate to be a part of this discussion and will continue to work alongside governments and regulators to find the right solutions which not only protect users’ privacy but are also interoperable with other major global privacy regulations,” the Facebook assertion stated.

According to individuals conscious of the main points, the panel sought an in depth written submission to a set of 20-25 questions on the specifics of the corporate’s coverage on taking down pages; on the promoting mannequin that they comply with throughout the globe; and through which nation the social media platform pays the very best tax. The firm, represented by Ankhi Das and Bhairav Acharya, who’re a part of Facebook’s coverage staff in India, was requested questions on whether or not the corporate has a “hiring bias”.

“They were asked if it is true that about 90% of their employees have contributed to the Democrats. If that is so, is that the reason why handles that posted New York Post’s news report on Hunter Biden were blocked. They were also probed on the hiring policy and if there is a bias that is reflected in the appointments being made in India and other countries as well,” stated an individual conscious of the main points.

There was an uproar final week after the New York Post’s tales primarily based on alleged emails from Hunter Biden detailing his monetary relationships with the Ukrainian natural-gas firm Burisma and a Chinese power agency had been prevented from being shared on-line. Biden’s father Joe Biden is within the race for president.

The social media firm was summoned to debate the problem of the alleged misuse of its platform within the wake of claims that it didn’t apply hate speech guidelines to sure BJP politicians, and concerning the firm’s coverage on privateness and knowledge safety.

The firm defended its place and maintained that it might not be in India’s finest pursuits to insist towards cross-border switch of information, in line with individuals within the know, who added that Facebook stated in current occasions a lot of start-ups had come to India and if there was no worldwide knowledge switch these companies must depart the nation.

Facebook advised the panel that in most European international locations, parental consent is required to open an account for youngsters under the age of 13 however in India that determine is 18, which must be introduced down, stated the individuals cited above, including that on questions over Facebook’s alleged try to control elections within the US, the social media big denied each allegation.


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