The Standing Committee of Information Technology is holding a meeting on October 25, 2019 where it will be briefed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on safeguarding citzens online. We provide the Committee with a few issues to enquire about from MEITY on the issues of community data, transparency processess and even the investigation into the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Concerns we think need to be raised
The Standing Committee of Information Technology will hold its 4th and 5th sitting on October 25, 2019. The agenda for the meeting will include a briefing from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) on the issue of 'Safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms including special emphasis on women security in the digital space'.
We provide the Committee with a few issues to enquire about from MEITY on the issues of community data, transparency processess and even the investigation into the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
As this is such a vital issue and a perfect opportunity to engage with MEITY, we write to the Committee with few suggestions the Committee might consider in their discussion:
- Committee on community data: With the constitution of the Committee of Experts to deliberate a Data Governance Framework by MEITY, we request the Standing Committee to enquire about the criteria based on which the composition of the Data Governance Committee was set up, as there is not only do the members not sufficiently represent both government, industry and civil society organisation but more worrying is the appointment of a chairperson who is an individual from a private industry and likely to put first commercial interest rather than the interests and protection of individuals. We also highlight the concerns with forming Data Governance Framework without even establishing a data protection law prior to this.
- Enabling transparency: We continue our requests for transparency especially with rgard to the a privately held consultation on the draft Information Technology [Intermediary Guidelines (Amendment)] Rules, 2019 and the draft Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 held by MEITY; and also toward the submissions put forth by MEITY during the meeting to be held by the Standing Committee.
- Cambridge Analytica investigation: As the previous IT Standing Committee opened an investigation into the Cambridge Analytica scandal, we ask that the Committee provide the status and any insights from the investigation.
Considering the issue of safeguarding citizen rights online and the environment in which this concern was raised, our representation also flags the need that in future deliberations there be representation by officers from the Election Commission of India due to the recent intertwining nature of social-media platforms and elections.
- Representation to the Standing Committee of Information Technology dated 23.10.2019 (link)