The Parliamentary panel on Information Technology has summoned the head of microblogging site Twitter to appear before it on February 25, the committee’s chairman Anurag Thakur said on Monday.
Committee members took a serious note about Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey not appearing before it on Monday. While representatives from Twitter’s India office reached the meeting venue, they were not called in for deliberations by the panel, according to sources.
The panel decided to call Twitter officials against the backdrop of growing concerns about safeguarding citizens’ data privacy and possibility that social media could be used to interfere in elections.
Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the government has been warning social media platforms of strong action if any attempt was made to influence the country’s electoral process through undesirable means.
On Saturday, Twitter in a statement had cited “short notice of the hearing” for its CEO Dorsey not being able to attend the Monday meeting.
The committee’s chairman and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Thakur on Monday said Twitter head and other representatives have been “summoned” to appear before the panel on February 25.
There was no immediate comment from Twitter.
The panel was scheduled to hear the views of the representatives of ministry of electronics and IT and Twitter on ‘safeguarding citizens rights on social/ online news media platforms’.
Senior officials from the IT ministry were present at the meeting on Monday.
Earlier scheduled for February 7, the meeting was postponed to Monday to give more time to Twitter CEO and other senior officials to make themselves available, sources said last week.
On Monday, sources said the panel would be meeting next on February 26. The heads of social media platforms like Facebook might also be asked to appear before it on February 26 but a final call is yet to be taken, they added.
Facing heat over allegations of political bias in the country, Twitter last week said it was committed to remain unbiased and that its product as well as policies are never based on political ideology.
The government has been taking a strong view of misuse of social media platforms and is also proposing to amend IT rules to curb fake news and increase accountability of such apps.
Over the last few months, Facebook, Twitter and Google have promised to infuse more transparency into political advertisements on their platform, and have since announced a slew of measures as part of election integrity efforts.
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