Parliamentary panel summons Google, Facebook officials over misuse of platforms

Published on Jun 28, 2021 09:59 AM IST

The Parliamentary standing committee on Information Technology, headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, had called Twitter officials amid the company’s standoff with the government over new IT rules.

The officials of Facebook have been asked to present views on safeguarding the rights of the citizens.(Reuters File Photo)
The officials of Facebook have been asked to present views on safeguarding the rights of the citizens.(Reuters File Photo)
By | Written by Amit Chaturvedi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

A standing committee of Parliament has called the representatives of tech giant Google and social media company Facebook to appear before it on Tuesday, news agency ANI reported. The committee, headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, will hear the views of the companies about safeguarding the rights of the citizens and how to stop the misuse of social media.

This comes 10 days after the officials of Twitter appeared before the panel to discuss India’s new IT rules and how to stop the misuse of the platform.

The discussions centered around the content being uploaded by the users of the microblogging platform and whether it respect the law of the land. Twitter, through it counsel Ayushi Kapoor and public policy manager Shagufta Kamran, told the panel that it follows its own policies.

The committee then told the representatives that law of the land is "supreme" and asked the company to abide by them.

The meeting came amid a feud between Twitter and the Indian government over the new IT rules. The government has asked the microblogging platform to abide by the new rules, which it said have been created to safeguard the citizens. The feud has seen Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s Twitter account getting deactivated for some time.

Twitter has already lost the legal protection in India when the government stripped it of its intermediary status. This means that Twitter will not considered as a platform hosting people’s tweets but it will be editorially responsible for the content.

Twitter has faced the heat over removing blue tick (verification badge) from the accounts of vie president Venkaiah Naidu and many leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). It has also received notices from the Delhi Police in Congress toolkit case.

On June 20, India's permanent mission at the United Nations had clarified that India's new IT rules are "designed to empower ordinary users of social media" and that they were finalised after the government held broad consultations with civil society and other stakeholders in 2018.

The Centre notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 on February 25, 2021. The Rules have come into effect from May 26, 2021.

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