Too many cooks won't spoil this broth. Need for larger participation by the Parliamentary Committee on IT.

Highlights

  • Background: On February 11, 2019, a notice by the Parliamentary Committee on IT called upon the representatives of the Government and Twitter for a hearing on, "‘Safeguarding citizens’ data on social/online news media platforms’". The CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, failed to attend the hearing. Today on February 25, 2019, a second hearing has been scheduled once again summoning the executive and others previously involved.
  • Larger inclusion: We once again write to the Committee asking for the inclusion of not only a select few social media companies but additionally, civil society organisations, academics and experts. A parallel is drawn to the experts, academics etc., that deposed in the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica hearings.
  • Need for clarity: We ask the Committee to explain the criteria behind the summoning of online platforms and the scope of these hearings in achieving certain outcomes.  

Background

A notice published on February 11, 2019 invited the representatives of the Government and Twitter for a hearing on "‘Safeguarding citizens’ data on social/online news media platforms’". This comes as a result of individuals of a particular ideology being targeted on the platform.

We wrote a letter to the Standing Parliamentary Committee of IT on February 7, 2019 asking for the involvement of more than just the Government and Twitter, but other social media platforms, academics, experts etc., and more importantly, the public, users of these platforms. You can read the letter at this link.

As the third hearing date draws near, we thought it fit to write to the Parliamentary Committee once again (Read here for more). Today's letter utilises specific examples from the United Kingdom and Canada where similar parliamentary committees engaged on the complex issue of the impacts of social media platforms. The United Kingdom called upon various individual such as David Carroll, an associate professor at the Parsons School of Design, Sandy Parakilas, Chief Strategy Officer at the Center for Humane Technology, a non-profit organisation. Further hearings even included renowned privacy activist and lawyer, Max Schrems. Through this we are trying to convey to the committee the need and benefit in inviting experts and academics to contribute with their expertise on the issue.

Need for Clarity

Social media safety is a very wide terrain. It has several platforms with their own unique ecologies of communication, benefits and risks. Here is it useful to set criteria and define the scope of the hearings by the Parliamentary Committee. It requires a defined scope and criteria for the hearings to productively flow into actionable recommendations which benefit our parliamentarians. We have urged the Committee to consider our point of view and we hope for wider participation in further stages of this process.

Documents

  • Letter dated Feb 25, 2019 [link]
  • Letter dated Feb 07, 2019 [link]
  • Letter dated May 21, 2018 [link]
  • Letter dated April 21, 2018 [link]
  • Letter dated April 5, 2018 [link]

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