The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology is going to discuss Privacy and Data Protection on April 4th 2018, with representatives
of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology set to brief the committee on “Citizens’ data security and privacy”, according to a notice from the committee, and a tweet from Committee Chairman Anurag Thakur.

The Economic Times adds that the Committee might summon Facebook to depose before it, given the context of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and the usage of Facebook data in political targeting, and the potential shaping of election results.

Note that two topics on the Committee’s agenda include: “(iv) Social Media – Norms and Regulations (v) Citizens’ data security and privacy”, and this potentially combines the two.

A few things to note:
1. There will probably not be any live streaming of the deposition, or even videos available. I’ve deposed before a few committees, and even transcripts of depositions are not available until the committee publishes a report. That said, other countries do broadcast/webcast their depositions, and videos are available. This video of a Facebook executive being told off in Singapore is going viral. The video:

Other parts of that deposition are here.

2. There may not be any report: We’re still awaiting the committee’s report on Net Neutrality, even though the regulations around Net Neutrality have been accepted, and the TRAI has made recommendations to the DoT of Net Neutrality.

3. The committee can request public submissions. It has been done before. We had submitted views to the Committee on IT on the issue of Paid News.

4. Facebook need not depose: While Facebook had deposed before the IT Committee on the issue of Net Neutrality, Google had opted out, despite being summoned. It’s possible that Facebook could choose not to depose.

5. Not every MP attends the Standing Committee meetings. Here’s the composition of the committee:

Members from Lok Sabha

 

Vacant Seat: 1
Members from Rajya Sabha
S.No. Name of Members Date From
1 Babbar, Shri Raj 01/09/2017
2 Kenye, Shri K.G. 01/09/2017
3 Kujur, Shri Santiuse 01/09/2017
4 Perween, Smt. Kahkashan 01/09/2017
5 Rao, Dr. K.V.P. Ramachandra 01/09/2017
6 Sahasrabuddhe, Dr. Vinay P. 01/09/2017
7 Subhash Chandra, Dr. 01/09/2017
8 Suresh Gopi, Shri 01/09/2017
9 Tendulkar, Shri Sachin Ramesh 01/09/2017
10 Verma, Shri Beni Prasad 01/09/2017