Google, PayTm Summoned By Parliament's Data Protection Panel Today

Online retail giant Amazon, which was also summoned by the committee last week, refused to appear before it.

The agenda of the meeting says the officials will be required to give oral evidence before the committee

New Delhi:

Officials of Google and PayTm have been summoned by the Parliamentary Joint Committee which is looking into the Personal Data Protection Bill. Officials from both firms will appear before the committee headed by BJP parliamentarian Meenakshi Lekhi on Thursday. Following Congress concerns over the 2019 bill, the committee is looking into the matter and involving all stakeholders for an overview.

The agenda of the meeting says the officials will be required to give oral evidence before the committee.

The PayTm officials will arrive before the committee at 11 am at the Parliament House. The Google officials are to meet the committee at 3 pm.

Last week, it was the turn of social media giant Facebook. The Facebook officials had appeared before the Committee last Friday. Twitter officials appeared before the committee at 11 am yesterday.

Facebook executive Ankhi Das -- whose name cropped up in a recent controversy over Facebook's alleged bias in dealing with hate speeches -- appeared before the panel and was questioned for two hours, sources said.

Ms Das resigned from the company yesterday. Facebook, which had denied any bias in the hate speech issue, said she wished to "pursue her interest in public service".

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Officials of the online retail giant Amazon, appeared before the committee 3 pm yesterday and gave oral evidence for almost three-and-a half-hours.

Amazon, which was summoned by the committee last week, had initially refused to appear. The firm, which sources said could face "coercive action" and a "breach of privilege" notice, later said its position "may have been misconstrued". Its experts, Amazon said, were overseas and were unable to depose before the committee due to travel restrictions imposed to control the coronavirus pandemic.

"We will work with the JPC to set the record straight," the company said.

While introducing the draft bill in parliament last year, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said it empowers the government to ask firms like Facebook, Google and others for anonymous personal and non-personal data.

But there were concerns about the government accessing personal data of users. The opposition Congress had concerns regarding the use of such data in some cases, especially where national security is involved.