The Parliamentary Panel on Information Technology has sought clear written replies from Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram after hearing the social media platforms' officials views earlier on Wednesday, and upon informing them of the government's top priorities in this regard.
As per sources, the Anurag Thakur-led panel informed the Facebook-owned platforms that the upcoming elections, national security and protecting citizens' data were their priority areas.
Sources also added that the Parliamentary Panel asked Facebook whether its platform was serving society or dividing communities, to which Facebook's officials replied that it is a 'hybrid company'. Facebook also wasn't able to shed clear light on what regulatory framework applies to its content, advertising and marketing operations in India.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT has summoned senior officials from Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp as well as four other social media platforms on the issue of "Safeguarding citizens' rights on social/online news media platforms, sources had told Republic TV.
Earlier, it had been Twitter under the spotlight, with the Parliamentary Panel telling the platform to ensure that Indian elections are not undermined and influenced by foreign entities. He had stressed that they must work in real time with Election Commission to address issues.
At that time, the panel had also asked the Twitter VP under which act was it registered in India, whether it was registered as a media company or as in any other form. Twitter was not able to answer the question.
The panel also told the company that groups who are against India and terrorists groups which use the platform must be reigned in from doing so. It also told Twitter that it must not allow groups who are against India to use the social media app and website.
Crowell appeared before the panel on IT on February 25 after CEO Jack Dorsey cited 'short-notice' to explain his unavailability for the hearing. The 31-member committee conducting the session discussed the “safeguarding of citizen’s rights on social/online news media platforms”.
This came after the Parliamentary panel on Information Technology had summoned Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to appear before it on February 25, and had refused to meet "junior officials" of the micro-blogging site during its meeting on February 11.