Parliamentary Panel Will Summon Twitter, Facebook over Banning of Accounts, Changes in Privacy Policies

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NEW DELHI: The parliamentary standing committee on information technology on Tuesday unanimously decided to summon Twitter and Facebook to explain their actions in recent days to ban accounts and institute sudden changes in privacy policies — a move that comes in the backdrop of US President Donald Trump being banned on Twitter.

The decision on Trump has given rise to the question of whether private enterprises doing public service could unilaterally exercise the power to remove people from platforms. Sources said panel members also agree unanimously that while Twitter has repeatedly referred to itself as a data intermediary, it has acted in this instance as both publisher and censor, and must, as a result explain its actions, since they have consequences not just for the US, but for India and the rest of the world.

Similar questions will also be posed to Facebook (and WhatsApp), which the committee decided to summon over the recent changes in privacy policy, and which has led to large-scale exodus from the platform in India.
Summons to the two social media giants are expected to be sent out soon and the date of the panel’s meeting will be fixed accordingly.

On Tuesday, the panel also discussed the functioning of the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI), where representatives of UIDAI spoke about the extent of Aadhaar coverage in India. They also negated specific questions about data breaches, maintaining that safety protocols at UIDAI were robust, and breaches, if any, had only happened at the level of external agencies. Officials also told the panel the Aadhaar enrolment remains voluntary.

On Wednesday, the panel will examine the functioning of the Central Board of Film Certification, commonly referred to as the censor board.

The story is derived from a syndicated feed and Team TOV has not made any amendments to it.

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