NEW DELHI: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is unlikely to attend the February 25 meeting called by a panel of MPs to discuss safeguarding of citizen rights on social media and online news portals.
The company’s head of global public policy and philanthropy, Colin Crowell, is expected to represent the microblogging platform before the parliamentary standing committee on information technology, people with direct knowledge of the matter said. Sources in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), however, said efforts were still on to have Dorsey attend the meeting.
After this meeting, the panel is expected to summon top executives of Facebook and WhatsApp on March 5 to discuss similar issues, the people said.
It is also exploring the possibility of expanding the 48-hour silence rule applicable to print media and TV channels ahead of elections to social media as well and has sought MeitY’s views on this, they said. The ministry, in turn, is considering several options, including regulation through local internet service providers and seeking voluntary compliance by the social media platforms, they added.
During the meeting with Twitter, the panel wants to examine issues such as data privacy. It is also seeking to better understand the company’s business structure, including whether it is a technology company or a media house.
Twitter declined to comment on the issue. But in a press statement issued on Thursday, the social media company said the 2019 Lok Sabha elections were a “key priority” for it.
“We deeply respect the integrity of the election process and are committed to providing a service that fosters and facilitates free and open democratic debate,” the statement quoted Crowell as saying.
LS Polls a Priority for Twitter: Crowell
“The 2019 LS (elections) are a priority for the company and our dedicated cross-functional team is working to ensure the health of the public conversation is enhanced and protected at this important time,” Crowell said.
The panel had earlier scheduled the meeting with Twitter on February 11, but deferred it after only the local executives, and not the global honchos, turned up. It then gave the company 15 days to make available either its CEO or an executive of its global team accountable for the company’s actions, for a meeting. The idea is to pin the responsibility on the people who have the mandate to frame and implement the company’s policies, a senior panel member told ET.
ET, on February 11, reported that the ministry had taken up the issue of “fake” handles with Twitter India, including one attributed to the Chief Justice of India. In its response, Twitter informed the ministry that lakhs of bots had been eliminated by it, acting promptly on complaints by individuals and institutions, said officials.
On February 10, ET reported that the panel was exploring ways to express its annoyance at being unable to get Twitter CEO Dorsey or his second-in-command to attend the meeting.