Parliamentary panel directs Facebook, Google to comply with new IT rules

New Delhi: Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology on Tuesday directed Facebook and Google to comply with new IT rules and follow rules of the country.

Senior officials from Facebook and Google appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Information and Technology (IT) on Tuesday to put forth their views on ‘safeguarding citizens rights and prevention of misuse of social and online news media platforms including special emphasis on women security in the digital space’.

The committee meeting began under the chairmanship of Congress leader Dr Shashi Tharoor. The committee members raised the issues of privacy of personal data and women safety and security of women on Facebook.

Facebook officials were grilled by the committee members about the leakage of data and the safety and security of the women.

In response, Facebook officials informed the committee that leakage is not from any Facebook platforms but it is happening through other devices.

Facebook India Associate General Counsel Namrata Singh and the company’s Director of Public Policy Shivnath Thukral attended the meeting and discussed several issues.

Google officials informed the committee that between January and March 2021, YouTube removed over 9.5 million videos for violating its community guidelines.

“95 per cent of these videos were first flagged by machines rather than humans. Of those detected by machines, 27.8 per cent never received a single view, and 39 per cent received between 1 and 10 views. During this same quarter, YouTube terminated over 2.2 million channels for violating its Community Guidelines. In this same period. YouTube removed more than 1 billion comments, the majority of which were spam and were detected automatically,” officials told the committee.

Earlier, Facebook officials, in their response to the committee, had said, that the officers could not appear before the committee as the company’s rules prohibit officials to attend any meeting in person during the period of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facebook officials decided to appear online. But panel chairman Shashi Tharoor later turned down Facebook’s request to attend the meeting virtually.

On June 20, India’s permanent mission at the United Nations had clarified that India’s new IT rules are “designed to empower ordinary users of social media” and that they were finalised after the government held broad consultations with civil society and other stakeholders in 2018.

The Central government has framed the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (‘new IT Rules’) and notified the same on February 25, 2021. The Rules have come into effect from May 26, 2021.