JPC questions Google, Paytm over China links
The joint parliamentary panel on the Personal Data Protection Bill on Thursday asked tech giant Google and fin-tech company One 97 Communications, which runs Paytm, to explain their relationship with China, according to people familiar with the matter.
Google officials reiterated that the company walked out of China on its own, but the panel was keen to know if its products or services have any links with China since Google owns Android, the software used by many Chinese phone makers. Paytm, the people said, admitted that Chinese company Alibaba is an investor but that none of the investors has a say in the company’s running.
One of the people added that Google officials were grilled about the need for regulating the company, especially on the content part of its business.
According to one member of the JPC, Google maintained that India should avoid data localisation requirement as it is ill-fitted to protect privacy and security. The tech giant also claimed that the move to localise data is not in sync with open trade commitments and modern data protection standard, this person said.
The JPC has given Google and Paytm time to sumbit written responses to queries on structure, tax regimes, data processing and protection, and privacy.
“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,” said a Google spokesperson.
“We welcome the opportunity to help policymakers understand our business and the work we do 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 added.
The panel has already met Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon. A second person familiar with the matter said that all these companies have been asked to share their policy on tackling deepfakes, and how they ensure the neutrality of their platforms, especially when there is conflict of interest.
“These companies claim to be the intermediaries yet they are also the manufacturers, the market, the financial service providers, loaning agencies and they have the control over what will be displayed on the platforms and what gets suppressed,” the second person said.
JPC chairperson Meenakshi Lekhi said, “We have asked all the platforms details about the corporate structure, corporate tax, data protection and processing and how it is stored. We want to understand their style of functioning and how data and revenue mobilisation takes place.”
While Twitter and Amazon stopped short of welcoming the data bill, Google welcomed the bill but expressed reservations about India’s attempt to restrict data portability and cross border sharing of data.