Data Protection Bill: Amazon to appear before joint parliamentary committee

Earlier it had been learnt that the Jeff Bezos-led firm had expressed inability to appear before the committee
E-commerce giant Amazon is expected to appear before a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) looking into the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019. A team of experts from Amazon would make a detailed presentation on Wednesday before the joint committee on the Personal Data Protection Bill, according to the sources. 

Earlier it had been learnt that the Jeff Bezos-led firm had expressed inability to appear before the committee. Amazon had informed the committee that its experts were abroad and were unable to travel to India due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The JPC saw this as "breach of privilege of parliament” and had plans to take “coercive” action against the e-commerce firm which provides its services to millions of customers and sellers in the country.

“Instead of the officials travelling from abroad, a team of Amazon experts who are based in India, would meet the committee in person and make the presentation,” said an industry source. “Actually, it was Amazon which had voluntarily offered to provide its insights way back in February 2020, long before the companies were told to share their views.”

Experts said the parliament committee wants to examine all the stakeholders including Amazon, Facebook and Google to get their perspective about personal data protection issues. These big service providers are data intermediaries and are dealing, handling and processing humongous volumes of data. Experts said the government could take a very “serious note” about Amazon not appearing before the committee as it is "not powerless” and can actually recommend action to be taken.

Top officials at social media giant Facebook have made a detailed presentation before JPC on the Personal Data Protection Bill, according to the sources. India is the biggest user base for Facebook with around 328 million users while its WhatsApp messaging app has 400 million users in India, also the world’s highest. People in the know said that officials from companies such as Google, Twitter and digital payments firm Paytm are also expected to make the presentations during the last week of this month.

India’s digital transformation opportunity and anticipated 850 million smartphone users by 2025, has made the country a very attractive market for these big tech companies. The market opportunities for online commerce in the country are expected to touch $200 billion by 2028 from $30 billion in 2018. Also, due to Covid-19 pandemic, more Indian’s are getting online. All of these transformations are generating huge amounts of data.

The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha, last year in December. The Bill seeks to provide for the protection of personal data of individuals and establishes a Data Protection Authority for the same.


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