After Parliament no-show, Amazon says experts couldn’t travel due to Covid curbs

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NEW DELHI: E-commerce giant Amazon on Friday said that its inability to appear before the joint committee of Parliament in India due to overseas travel restrictions amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has been misconstrued.
In a statement, Amazon clarified that it would continue to engage with the panel, which is reviewing the Data Protection Bill. Stating that its subject experts on data protection are based abroad and cannot travel in the current situation, the company said that there has been a misunderstanding about its position and it will work towards clarifying the same.
“The inability of our experts to travel from overseas due to travel restrictions and depose before the JPC (joint parliamentary committee) during the ongoing pandemic may have been misconstrued and led to a misunderstanding,” the company said.
Objecting to Amazon’s statement, a member of the panel said it is strange that the company, with customer base of several crores and India being its one of the largest markets, doesn’t have data safety officials in the country.
Amazon, which refused to appear before the Joint Committee of Parliament on Data Protection Bill, was summoned by the panel along with Twitter on October 28. While, Google and Paytm have been summoned on October 29.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s policy head Ankhi Das appeared before the panel on the issue of data security earlier in the day.
Meenakshi Lekhi, chairperson of the panel conducting the review said the panel could move breach of privilege motion against the company if a representative of the e-commerce giant does not appear before it.
“Amazon is doing huge business in India … If it doesn’t appear before the committee, coercive action may be initiated against it,” said Lekhi, without explaining what the action could be.
“The panel is unanimous in its opinion that further a coercive action can be suggested to the government against the e-commerce company,” she added.

The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the minister of electronics and information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad on December 11, 2019. The bill seeks to provide for protection of personal data of individuals and establishes a Data Protection Authority for the same.
Later, the Bill was referred to a joint select committee of both Houses of Parliament. The proposed law seeks bar on storing and processing of personal data by entities without the explicit consent of an individual.
(With agency inputs)

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