Google says its products make relevant info readily accessible for users globally
Google on Thursday said its products across Search, Android and YouTube make “relevant information” readily accessible for users globally, and its algorithms ensure that high-quality content surfaces in response to user queries.
The statement comes against the backdrop of the company appearing before a parliamentary panel on Thursday.
The panel, headed by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, questioned “neutrality” of Google when it is engaged in both advertising and content, and asked was it not violating fundamental rights of users by “controlling” their choices.
“Our goal is to create the best possible products for users, from Search to Android to YouTube, making relevant information readily accessible around the world. Every year, we issue hundreds of improvements to our algorithms so as to ensure they surface high quality content in response to user queries,” a Google spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement.
The spokesperson added that the company welcomed the opportunity to help policymakers understand its business and the work it does to “keep the Internet open and support the calls for comprehensive, baseline privacy regulation”. “We believe that regulation can support a dynamic marketplace for businesses of all types and sizes. We sincerely hope this consultative process will help the Committee achieve its objective of protecting the interests of citizens and promoting innovation,” the spokesperson said.
Gitanjali Duggal, Google’s director and head of legal in India; Aman Jain, head of government affairs and public policy; and Rahul Jain, manager of public policy and government relations, appeared before the Joint Committee of Parliament on the Personal Data Protection Bill and responded to queries related to data security.
Members of the panel, including Congress MP Vivek Tankha, BJP MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar and BJD MPs Bhartruhari Mahtab and Amar Patnaik, posed a number of queries to Google representatives.
According to sources, some panel members asked them the search engine is “controlling the choices of your users, isn’t it violation of fundamental rights?” During the meeting, MPs cutting across party lines asked how can Google be a “neutral platform” when it is engaged in both advertising and content, and how is it possible that it does not give “preferential treatment” to some advertisers in search results, the sources said.
Some members also posed questions whether data being processed and stored in the country of origin or somewhere outside, the sources added.
Noting that Google has a wider presence and available on different forms on the web, some members said it “has the power to affect the choices of its users” and that needs to be checked.
Besides Google, representatives of Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Paytm have deposed before the panel.
Representatives of telecom operators Reliance Jio and Airtel and cab aggregators Ola and Uber have been asked to appear before it.
The committee is examining the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019.
The Personal Data Protection Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on December 11, 2019. The Bill seeks to provide for protection of personal data of individuals and establishment of a data protection authority for the same.
The Bill was later referred to a joint select committee of both Houses of Parliament. The proposed law seeks bar on storing and processing of personal data by entities without the explicit consent of an individual. PTI SR HRS