Indian activists with the New Delhi-based Centre For Accountability And Systemic Change (CASC) and right-wing activist K.N. Govindacharya have asked lawmakers in India to call leaders of Google and Facebook to the country to ask them about data privacy and their compliance on tax laws, according to a report from Reuters.
The group is asking a parliamentary panel on information technology to investigate the tech giants. The panel recently summoned Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, to come and talk about how to protect citizens’ rights on social media and other online platforms.
With elections in the country coming up in May, social media outfits are facing more scrutiny while Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigns for another term. Some firms, Reuters reported, are taking another look at their policies and making changes to combat misinformation before voting begins.
The petition was addressed to Anurag Thakur, the head of the panel. When asked if he would call on the leaders of other giant online companies, Thakur said he was thinking about it.
“We’re calling everyone. But we have to start with someone,” he said. “In the past, we called everyone on net neutrality … on this subject also of safeguarding citizens’ rights and privacy, we’ll call everyone concerned. Of course, we have to call those people who are authorized to take decisions and who head organizations.”
CASC calls itself a think-tank looking into public interest topics, and Govindacharya used to belong to a Hindu nationalist group.
In the letter, they ask the panel to acquire a report from the tech giants about “transfer of sensitive personal data of millions of Indians.”
This isn’t CASC’s first foray into this area: It previously went to court against WhatsApp, saying the platform didn’t comply with India’s IT laws and didn’t have a grievance officer in the country, something that the Indian Information Technology Act mandates. WhatsApp disputed the accusation, saying it has both a grievance officer and a corporate entity in the country.