Parliamentary panel gives Twitter two days’ time | India News

NEW DELHI: Taking umbrage at Twitter‘s decision to block the account of information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Lok Sabha Secretariat on Tuesday sought a written explanation from the social media firm in two days on why it temporarily blocked the minister on its platform.
The missive was sent out following directions by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who chairs the parliamentary standing committee on information technology. On June 25, Twitter had blocked Prasad’s account for an hour for alleged copyright violation, only to apologise and restore it later. Prasad said the platform was possibly peeved with him over his criticism of Twitter for not complying with new social media guidelines.
Separately, the house panel on IT met with representatives of Facebook and Google and asked them about their compliance with India’s statutory guidelines for digital platforms.
Sources said Tharoor asked Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, about how they could trace the origins of a message if content was end-to-end encrypted. When Facebook’s country policy director Shivnath Thukral and general counsel Namrata Singh said it would not be possible to break end-to-end encryption, Tharoor is learnt to have asked how WhatsApp was watermarking messages as “forwarded many times” and that if it could identify and label content as forwarded, it should also have mechanisms to identify where it originated. Facebook is learnt to have said such labelling was different from tracing origins of messages and that it would explain the difference to the panel, in writing.
The company also raised concerns over criminal liabilities accruing to compliance officers under the digital media rules, 2021 and told the panel it has urged the government to rethink this. Under the rules, compliance officers can face criminal action for violation of guidelines relating to content posted on their platforms.
Interaction with representatives of Google Inc, on the other hand, saw BJP MP Sumalatha Ambareesh question the platform over labelling Kannada as the “ugliest” language in India. To this, Google India’s head of government affairs and public policy, Aman Jain, and director (legal), Gitanjali Duggal, said this was not a reflection of Google’s views but an aggregation of content available on the platform. Google also said it plans to introduce, in due course, “quality filters” to prevent pejorative content of this variety from showing up.
The digital tech company also told the committee that while it has access to metadata collected through the ‘Ok Google’ command, other Google platforms do not read individual emails or private messages, or indulge in invasion of privacy.

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