29 Jun 2021: Eavesdropping, women's safety discussed at Facebook, Google IT panel meet
Officials of Facebook and Google appeared before a Parliamentary panel on Information Technology in Delhi on Thursday regarding the misuse of social media platforms. Reportedly, the issues of user privacy and the safety of women were discussed during the deposition. Earlier last week, Twitter officials had deposed before the IT panel, which is headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor. Here are more details.
Deposition: Panel aimed at preventing misuse of social media
Facebook India's Director of Public Policy, Shivnath Thukral, and Associate General Counsel, Namrata Singh, deposed before the panel. Meanwhile, Google was represented by its India head of Government Affairs and Public Policy, Aman Jain, and the Director of its legal team, Gitanjali Duggar. The panel's agenda is to safeguard citizens' rights and prevent the misuse of online/social media platforms.
What happened: Stringent norms of data privacy, security must be followed: Panel
The panel members strictly told both tech giants that they have to comply with the law of the land, sources told CNN-News18. The panel reportedly told them, "Stringent norms of data privacy and data security must be followed...The current flaws are unacceptable." The panel raised concerns over Google allegedly eavesdropping on people's conversations through speakers in phones. The panel sought details about the same.
What happened: Data is end-to-end encrypted, says Facebook
According to the report, panel members also expressed concerns over Facebook's safety and the security of women on the platform. Facebook said its data is end-to-end encrypted and any leak happens through devices, not via WhatsApp or Facebook. Facebook said it can only take action on women's security when the matter is reported and there is no suo motu way to file complaints.
Other details: Panel to summon officials from YouTube, other platforms next
Earlier, Facebook officials had told the IT panel that their company does not allow in-person meetings due to COVID-19. However, Tharoor had informed the social media firm that the Parliament Secretariat does not allow any virtual meetings, compelling Facebook officials to appear for an in-person meeting. The panel will summon representatives of YouTube in the coming weeks along with other social media intermediaries.
Recent news: Indian laws are supreme: Panel told Twitter last week
Last week, Twitter India's public policy manager Shagufta Kamran and legal counsel Ayushi Kapoor had deposed before the Parliamentary panel. The panel had then told the officials, "Indian laws are supreme and the firm has to abide by them." Twitter has notably had several run-ins with the government over the past few months, including over the new IT Rules.
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Also see: Shashi Tharoor-led parliamentary committee summons Google, Facebook
Indian laws supreme, not your policies: Parliamentary panel tells Twitter
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