Executives of social networking website Facebook India have begun deposing before the Parliamentary Committee on IT over issues like safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of social or online news media platforms’ misuse, according to sources. The panel, led by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, will summon representatives of YouTube and other social media intermediaries, too, in coming weeks.
Facebook India was represented at the deposition by Shivnath Thukral, its Director of Public Policy, and Namrata Singh, its Associate General Counsel.
Facebook’s officials had earlier informed the Committee that the company’s COVID-19 protocol disallows them from appearing in person. Mr Tharoor, however, insisted saying the Parliament Secretariat does not allow any virtual meetings.
The official agenda circulated among members of the panel for the deposition said, “To hear the views of representatives of Facebook India and Google India on the subject ‘Safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms including special emphasis on women security in the digital space.”
On June 18, representatives from microblogging site Twitter appeared before the same panel. The meeting took place against the backdrop of the US-based social media giant’s recent run-ins with the government on a series of issues.
They faced tough questions and were told bluntly that “Indian laws are supreme and the company has to abide by the laws of India in India,” according to sources.
A Twitter spokesperson later said that the company was prepared to work with the committee on “safeguarding citizens’ rights online in line with our principles of transparency, freedom of expression, and privacy”.