Data Protection Bill: Parliamentary Panel Quizzes Facebook; Amazon Refuses To Appear
Icons for apps of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google. (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg).

Data Protection Bill: Parliamentary Panel Quizzes Facebook; Amazon Refuses To Appear

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A parliamentary panel on Friday quizzed social media giant Facebook about the quantum of their revenue, profit and tax payouts in India and asked what portion of their earnings were being used for data security in the country, sources said.

Facebook India's policy head Ankhi Das appeared before the Joint Committee of Parliament on Data Protection Bill, 2019 chaired by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi.

She was questioned for two hours and asked some tough and searching questions by the panel members from across the political spectrum, sources said.

The MPs also sought to know the revenue Facebook generates from India and what percentage of the revenue is spent on safeguards for data protection, sources told PTI.

India is the biggest market for Facebook in terms of its users.

The panel also asked how much tax the social media giant pays in India, they said.

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. Concerns were also raised about the allegations that majority of the employees of the social media giant in the United States were inclined towards one specific political party of the country.

Last month, Facebook India head Ajit Mohan had appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, on the alleged misuse of social media platforms.

The panel had called Facebook to hear about a report published in the Wall Street Journal claiming that the social media platform ignored applying its hate-speech rules in India.

Amazon Refuses To Appear Before Committee

E-commerce giant Amazon has refused to appear before the Joint Committee of Parliament on the Data Protection Bill on Oct. 28 and this amounts to breach of privilege, panel chairperson and BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi said on Friday.

Lekhi said that "the panel is unanimous in its opinion that coercive action can be suggested to the government against the e-commerce company".

"Amazon has refused to appear before the panel on October 28 and if no one on behalf of the e-commerce company appears before the panel it amounts to breach of privilege," she told PTI.

The panel has summoned officials of micro-blogging site Twitter on Oct. 28, and Google and Paytm on Oct. 29.

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