Amazon has refuted media reports that it refused to appear before the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) which is looking into the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill. The e-commerce giant in an official statement released Friday night said the inability of its experts to travel from overseas due to travel restrictions and depose before the JPC during the ongoing pandemic appears to have been misconstrued and led to a misunderstanding.
The 20-member JPC, led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Meenakshi Lekhi, had also summoned Facebook and Twitter to seek oral evidence on the issues of data protection and privacy. Friday’s meeting agenda was about ‘Oral evidence by the representatives of Facebook India Online Services Pvt Ltd on the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019’. The summon to Facebook, Google and Twitter pertains to the issue of citizen’s personal data protection.
In regards to Amazon, Lekhi said that the panel is unanimous in its opinion that coercive action can be suggested to the government against the e-commerce company. “Amazon has refused to appear before the panel on October 28, and if no one on behalf of the e-commerce company appears before the panel, it amounts to a breach of privilege.”
Amazon said it would work with the JPC to set the record straight. “We have the utmost respect and regard for the important work being done by the JPC on the PDP bill and have already offered written submissions for consideration of this august committee. We will continue to engage in any way the JPC considers fit.”
Lekhi said whosoever is 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 examined by the panel. “The committee has representatives from across the political spectrum, and the deliberations on the Bill are being held from the national interest perspective,” she said.
Congress had flagged worries on the misuse of data in some cases, especially where national security is concerned. Legal experts have also said that the proposed law could give the government unaccounted access to the personal data of users.