Hyderabad, Feb 12 (PTI) Former Information Technology Secretary R Chandrashekhar Tuesday defended the move of the Parliamentary panel on IT to summon the head of Twitter, saying the meeting would help the committee understand the issues and the microblogging site to explain their position.
The former President of NASSCOM told PTI it was a good decision because the committee needed to first understand the “issues and problem” before deciding.
“I would personally view it as a positive thing that they are trying to understand from these guys (Twitter) directly what exactly the issue is and what their challenges are etc.
What conclusion they (the panel) come to is a different matter but at least to my mind it’s the right step and for Twitter also it’s a good thing if they can explain to them what the issues and challenges are and what they can and can’t do and then can come to their own conclusion”, he said.
The panel had on Monday summoned the the head of Twitter to appear before it on February 25.
Committee members took a serious note about the Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey not appearing before the panel.
On Saturday, Twitter in a statement had cited “short notice of the hearing” for its CEO Dorsey not being able to attend the Monday meeting.
The committee was scheduled to hear the views of the representatives of Ministry of Electronics and IT and Twitter on ‘Safeguarding citizens rights on social/online news media platforms’.
While representatives from Twitter’s India office reached the meeting venue, they were not called in for deliberations by the panel, according to sources.
The panel decided to call Twitter officials against the backdrop of growing concerns about safeguarding citizens’ data privacy and possibility that social media could be used to interfere in elections.
Chandrashekhar, also former Telecom Commission Chairman, said those broad concerns had been there for some time.
Summoning Twitter officials was “not very unusual”, he said, noting that representatives of Indian IT industry, startups and multinational companies had also earlier given their views on the subject in a similar exercise.
On the possibility that social media could “unfairly” influence the country’s election process, he said that’s something people should be concerned about in a democracy.
“There are many, many methods and techniques (by social media to influence polls through undesiable means) involved but that’s a separate issue; it’s a global phenomena, that’s not something peculiar to India. Obviously the scale is much larger in India but the problem is the same”, he said.
“And just in normal course also, no body can prevent two people from talking. Beyond a point, you can’t put a complete curb or a ban on social media. Some dialogue will go on.
What’s allowable and not allowable is a matter which needs a careful thought,” Chandrashekhar added.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.