Shashi Tharoor-led parliamentary committee summons Google, Facebook
The Indian government's Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology has requested officials from Google and Facebook to convene for a meeting on June 29 (Tuesday) to discuss how citizens should be safeguarded online. The committee is chaired by Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor. After meeting with Google and Facebook, the committee reportedly plans to summon other platforms including YouTube. Here are more details.
Committee wants to hear Facebook, Google's views on safeguarding citizens
The agenda for the June 29 meeting available on the Lok Sabha website is to hear the views of Facebook and Google on "the subject of safeguarding citizens' rights and the prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms including special emphasis on women's security in the digital space." Meanwhile, Hindustan Times reported that the ministry officials will meet Tharoor on July 7.
Facebook, Google officials earlier refused to appear in person
Previously, Google and Facebook had explained that the COVID-19 protocol didn't allow company officials to appear for meetings in person. However, the committee's chairperson told the Silicon Valley giants that the Parliament Secretariat doesn't allow virtual meetings. Further, the Parliamentary Standing Committee also intends to call upon YouTube and other social media platforms to discuss the same issues soon.
Twitter also faced committee after multiple run-ins with Indian laws
Evidently, earlier in June, representatives of microblogging platform Twitter were summoned by the committee in view of its decisions to label a ruling BJP leader's tweets as "manipulated media" and the removal of Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu's "verified" mark (that was later reinstated). After a two-hour-long meeting with Twitter on June 18, committee members also met Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) officials.
Twitter failed to comply with intermediary guidelines, 'lost legal shield'
Subsequently, Twitter lost its legal shield since it failed to comply with the IT Ministry's guidelines for social media intermediaries. The platform reportedly failed to appoint officials as mandated by the guidelines. Later, a Twitter spokesperson said the company is prepared to "work alongside the Indian government as part of our shared commitment to serve and protect the public conversation."