Facebook, Twitter face tough times in India

Chennai: A few days after Union government told Twitter that Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir are integral and inalienable parts of India governed by the Constitution of India after the microblogging platform’s location settings showed Leh as part of China, another popular social media platform Facebook is in trouble.

Senior India officials at Facebook India on Friday appeared before a Joint Committee on the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, chaired by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi.

Head of public policy at Facebook India, Ankhi Das, who made headlines after a scathing report by WSJ said that she had blocked action against leaders associated with the BJP and other Hindutva groups, and Facebook business head Ajit Mohan appeared before the panel and were both grilled on data protection for about two hours.

During the meeting, a member suggested that the social media giant should not draw inferences from the data of its users for commercial benefits of its advertisers.
Reports said Facebook, which has more than 300 million users in India, its biggest market, was asked how much revenue it generates and how much tax it pays.

It is said the joint parliamentary committee has called Facebook, Twitter and Amazon to discuss data protection and privacy as it looks into the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 following concerns raised by opposition parties.

“We deeply appreciate the opportunity to discuss data regulation issues with the members of the Joint Committee on the Personal Data Protection Bill. We believe that India’s data protection law has the potential to propel the country’s digital economy and global digital trade, and we wholeheartedly support this effort. That is why we deeply appreciate being a part of this discussion and will continue to work alongside governments and regulators to find the right solutions which not only protect users’ privacy but are also interoperable with other major global privacy regulations,” a Facebook India spokesperson told NDTV.

Facebook said the posts by Das don’t show inappropriate bias. “These posts are taken out of context and don’t represent the full scope of Facebook’s efforts to support the use of our platform by parties across the Indian political spectrum,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone told WSJ.


NT Bureau