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Indian lawmakers urged to call global heads of Facebook, other tech giants

MUMBAI (Reuters) – the Indian activists have a parliamentary panel to summon the heads of the US tech companies like Facebook and Alphabet, Inc. Google and ask them about topics ranging from tax compliance with the confidentiality of the information.

FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of laptop users in addition to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this photo illustration March 28, 2018. REUTERS/dado Ruvic/Image/File Photo

The petition, by a group that had previously dragged WhatsApp to the court and a right-wing political activist, comes a day after the panel called Twitter chief Jack Dorsey to discuss ways to ensure the protection of the rights of citizens on social media and online platforms.

Social media companies are under increased surveillance in India ahead of the elections due before May, in which Prime minister Narendra Modi is seeking another term. Some companies are renewal of the policy is to curb misinformation ahead of the vote.

In a letter to Anurag Thakur, the chairman of the parliamentary panel on information technology (IT), the New Delhi-based Centre For Accountability And Systemic Change (CASC) and right-wing activist K. N. Govindacharya saying that the global heads of Facebook, messenger, WhatsApp, the photo-sharing platform Instagram, along with the leaders of Twitter and Google, all need to be called to answer questions about the fiscal and other problems.

“We call on everyone. But we have to start with someone,” said Thakur, when asked about the question of whether the panel he leads would also call the heads of other online giants.

“In the past we called everyone on net neutrality… About this subject of the protection of the rights of citizens and privacy, we’ll call everyone involved. Of course, we have to mention that people who are empowered to take decisions and who is the head of the organisations.”

Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Google not immediately respond to requests for comment. Twitter declined to comment.

CASC describes itself as a think tank that public interest issues. Govindacharya is a former member of a Hindu nationalist group that is the ideological parent of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata y.

She asked THE panel to seek from social media companies, a status report on the transfer of sensitive personal data of millions of Indians,” according to a copy of the letter seen by Reuters.

CASC has previously taken WhatsApp to court, accusing the messaging platform of the non-compliance with India’s IT laws and it does not have a local complaint officer.

The Indian IT Act states that intermediaries or carriers of content, such as WhatsApp, designation of a Complaint Officer for the treatment of any questions, comments or concerns that users of the platform that is not under the jurisdiction of other authorities.

WhatsApp has previously said it has both Indian corporate entity and a complaint officer for the Indian users.

Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Euan Rocha and Gareth Jones

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