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Facebook Executive Ankhi Das Questioned By Parliamentary Panel On Data Privacy

Ankhi Das Quits facebook, Ankhi Das quits Facebook

Ankhi Das, Facebook India’s policy head, appeared before a joint parliamentary committee today, October 23. As per reports, the parliamentary panel questioned Das regarding Facebook’s data protection policies for over two hours.

The government has set up a joint parliamentary panel led by Meenakshi Lekhi to look into the issues of data privacy by tech platforms.

Reportedly, 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.

Amazon Refuses To Appear Before Parliamentary Panel

As per NDTV, the joint parliamentary committee has also summoned Twitter, Amazon, Google, and Paytm to discuss data privacy in the context of the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019. The draft bill allows the government to ask organisations like Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. for anonymous personal and non-personal data. Consequently, opposition parties have raised concerns over the misuse of the obtained data.

Notably, e-commerce giant Amazon has refused to appear before the parliamentary panel on October 28. It wrote to the panel today saying that “its experts are overseas” and cannot come back to India due to COVID-19 restrictions. The panel’s chairperson and BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi said that Amazon’s refusal amounts to “breach of privilege”. As per parliament sources, Amazon could face coercive action if its officials fail to show up before the panel.

Other tech industry representatives have also been called by the panel. Later in the month, Twitter, Google and Paytm will meet with the government.

Lekhi said, “Whosoever is so required, whether an individual or an entity, will be asked to depose before the panel on the issue of protection of data and its privacy and their respective social media platforms will be thoroughly examined by the panel.”

Who is Ankhi Das?

Ankhi Das is the policy head for Facebook India, South and Central Asia. Das’ name recently emerged in the ongoing controversy regarding Facebook’s alleged bias in dealing with political hate speeches. Back in August, a report by the Wall Street Journal alleged that Das had resisted enforcing hate-speech rules in the case of a politician from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Additionally, the portal reported that Das sent an internal message to Facebook’s employees a day before the BJP won the 2014 general elections. The message read, “We lit a fire to his social media campaign and the rest is of course history.” Later, Facebook deemed that Das’ message was taken out of context.

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