Haven’t confronted Facebook yet: Govt tells parliamentary panel

The panel, headed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarian Anurag Thakur, wanted to know if Facebook can be summoned and held accountable for any data breach of Indian users.
In this file photo illustration picture taken on April 29, 2018, the logo of social network Facebook is displayed on a screen and reflected on a tablet in Paris.(AFP)
In this file photo illustration picture taken on April 29, 2018, the logo of social network Facebook is displayed on a screen and reflected on a tablet in Paris.(AFP)
Updated on May 13, 2018 07:07 AM IST
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New Delhi, Hindustan Times | By

National cyber security chief Gulshan Rai told a parliamentary panel this week that India hasn’t made “concerted efforts to confront” the management of popular social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp amid growing fears of misuse of user data.

Rai said this at a meeting of the parliamentary standing committee on information technology, which discussed privacy issues and data breach in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The panel, headed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarian Anurag Thakur, wanted to know if Facebook can be summoned and held accountable for any data breach of Indian users.

“The question is whether we can enforce legal provisions. I think we can. Top management is located somewhere. What matters is how to enforce our own legal provisions,” Rai said.

When Thakur asked Rai if the government can restrict exposure of personal data on social media platforms, Rai said: “We have also not made concerted efforts till now to confront these managements. We are moving in the direction, and we expect to resolve it considering the size of the market.

“We have sufficient clout,” he added.

The panel expressed concern about whether Indian users are adequately protected by the terms of service agreements.

Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba made a presentation on privacy issues and said these must be addressed by the government’s data governance policy.

Gauba and Rai pointed out that after the media coverage of the Cambridge Analytica leak, many social media management have redesigned their terms of agreement for users.

Rai said India was among the first 12 countries to have law on information technology and related privacy issues.

Cyber security and privacy became a riveting subject after whistleblower Christopher Wylie alleged in March that Facebook had leaked data of 87 million users to London-based consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica .

Wylie also alleged that Cambridge Analytica had been hired to carry out political campaigns in India, saying the firm compiled a database of over 600 districts and 700,000 villages.

Responding to Wylie’s revelations, information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad issued a warning to Faceook founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg. “We have got stringent power in the IT Act, we shall use it, including summoning you in India,” Prasad had said.

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Thursday, January 27, 2022