Officials of Facebook and Google have been summoned by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology Tuesday to discuss the issue of safeguarding citizens' rights and preventing the misuse of online platforms.
The official agenda circulated among the members of the panel, which is headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, said, "To hear the views of representatives of Facebook India and Google India on the subject 'Safeguarding citizens' rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms including special emphasis on women security in the digital space."
Earlier, representatives of Facebook had informed the Parliamentary committee that their company's policies do not allow officials to appear in person due to the Covid-19 protocols. But the panel's chairman Mr Tharoor told Facebook that its officials will have to appear in person since the Parliament Secretariat does not allow virtual meetings.
The committee would also summon representatives from YouTube and other social media platforms in the coming days to hold discussions on the same issues.
Earlier this month, representatives from microblogging site Twitter appeared before the panel. The meeting took place against the backdrop of the US-based social media giant's run-ins with the government on a series of issues.
Twitter had tagged tweets by BJP leaders on an alleged "Congress toolkit" as "manipulated media". The government had asked Twitter to remove the label and Delhi Police had travelled to Bengaluru to question Twitter India head Manish Maheshwari.
Also, government sources said Twitter "has lost its legal shield" as it failed to comply with the new IT rules that require it to appoint key officers in India.
When Twitter officials appeared before the panel on June 18, they faced tough questions and were told bluntly that "Indian laws are supreme and the company has to abide by the laws of India in India", according to sources.
A Twitter spokesperson later said that the company was prepared to work with the committee on "safeguarding citizens' rights online in line with our principles of transparency, freedom of expression, and privacy".
"We will also continue working alongside the Indian government as part of our shared commitment to serve and protect the public conversation," the spokesperson added.