Isn’t Google violating users’ fundamental rights by ‘controlling’ choices? Parliamentary panel asks

In this news, we discuss the Isn’t Google violating users’ fundamental rights by ‘controlling’ choices? Parliamentary panel asks.

On Thursday, a parliamentary panel questioned Google’s “neutrality” when engaged in both advertising and content, and questioned whether it violates basic user rights by “controlling Their choices. Top search engine executives appeared before Parliament’s Joint Committee on the Personal Data Protection Bill and answered questions related to data security.

Gitanjali Duggal, Director of Google and Head of Legal India; Aman Jain, Head of Government Affairs and Public Policy; and Rahul Jain, director of public policy and government relations, testified before the panel, chaired by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi. “They themselves are the platforms, the sellers and the news agencies. And Google itself has the control button on which information will come first, which will come later, or which news will flash and which will be deleted. So how can this be a platform neutral? Lekhi told PTI after the meeting.

Panel members, including Congressman Vivek Tankha, BJP MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar and BJD MPs Bhartruhari Mahtab and Amar Patnaik, posed a number of questions to Google officials. According to sources, some panelists asked them that the search engine “control the choices of your users, isn’t that a violation of fundamental rights?” During the meeting, MPs from all parties asked how Google can be a “neutral platform” when engaged in both advertising and content, and how is it possible that ‘It does not give “preferential treatment” to certain advertisers in search results, sources said.

Some members also questioned whether the data is being processed and stored in the country of origin or elsewhere, according to sources. Noting that Google has a larger presence and is available on different forms on the web, some members said that it “has the power to influence the choices of its users” and that this needs to be verified.

Members stressed that regulations are needed for data security and handling, the sources said. A few MPs also asked about Google’s links to public relations and image makeover agencies for positive public profiling of individuals on the web by removing critical content against them, sources said.

In addition to Google, representatives of Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Paytm testified before the panel. Representatives of telecoms operators Reliance Jio and Airtel and cabin aggregators Ola and Uber were invited to appear before him.

The committee is reviewing the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019. The Personal Data Protection Bill was presented to Lok Sabha by the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad on December 11, 2019. The bill aims to ensure the protection of personal data of individuals and the creation of a data protection authority for this purpose.

The bill was then referred to a joint select committee of both houses of Parliament. The bill aims to prevent the storage and processing of personal data by entities without the explicit consent of an individual.

News Highlights:

  • According to sources, some panelists asked them that the search engine “control the choices of your users, isn’t that a violation of fundamental rights?” During the meeting, MPs from all parties asked how Google can be a “neutral platform” when engaged in both advertising and content, and how is it possible that ‘It does not give “preferential treatment” to certain advertisers in search results, sources said. Some members also questioned whether the data was processed and stored in the country of origin or elsewhere, sources said.
  • Doesn’t Google violate the fundamental rights of users by “controlling” choices? The parliamentary panel asks
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