The meeting, chaired by senior Congress leader and MP Shashi Tharoor convened at 4 pm and lasted over three hours. Senior Facebook officials have assured that they will submit a detailed written response on the questions raised regarding issues related to data protection and privacy of citizens, especially pertaining to Facebook-owned WhatsApp, The Quint has learnt.
The 31-member panel, however, saw low attendance with 11 MPs attending Thursday’s crucial meeting. On 22 January, the panel will meet again to discuss the adoption of a draft Report on the issue of 'India's preparedness for 5G'.
In a notice issued by the Lok Sabha secretariat on 17 January, the Committee had summoned representatives of social media giants Facebook and Twitter, to discuss the issues related to “safeguarding citizens' rights and preventing misuse of social/online news media platforms”.
Earlier, on 2 September 2020, Facebook India’s Managing Director Ajit Mohan was grilled for over two-and-a-half hours by the Parliamentary Committee on IT on the issue of alleged political bias and former top executive Ankhi Das, The Quint had reported.
Govt Pressure on WhatsApp
WhatsApp, on its part, on Wednesday, said that the proposed changes do not expand their ability to share user data with Facebook.
"“We wish to reinforce that this update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook. Our aim is to provide transparency and new options available to engage with businesses so they can serve their customers and grow.”" - WhatsApp spokesperson
Facebook India MD Grilled on Political Bias in Sept
Facebook India MD, Mohan, who was summoned by the standing committee on 2 September, was asked a wide range of questions including on the Wall Street Journal articles, allegations of political bias among its top executives, and inaction on hate speech posts and political advertisements during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Mohan was also asked what he had to say about allegations of Facebook actively promoting hate speech. In his response, Mohan stated that the social media company denounces all hate speech and denied claims of bias towards any political party, according panel members who were present at the meeting.
The Facebook MD also claimed that in the second quarter of 2020, the platform has taken down 22.5 million hate speech posts globally.
. Read more on India by The Quint.Parliament Committee Grills Facebook on WhatsApp’s Privacy UpdateAnother Fire at Serum Institute, PM Modi ‘Anguished’ as 5 Die . Read more on India by The Quint.