New Delhi: E-commerce platform Amazon has refused to appear before the Joint Committee of Parliament on the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, panel chairperson Meenakshi Lekhi said on Friday, adding that it amounted to “breach of privilege of parliament”. Also Read - Govt Fines Amazon for Not Displaying Mandatory Info, Including Country of Origin, About Products

If reports are to be believed, the panel may decide on initiating “coercive action” if Amazon does not show up on October 28 for the investigation. Also Read - Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon Rises For First Time in Four Months, 50% Higher Than Previous Year

In their defense, Amazon has stated that “subject matter experts are overseas”, and cited travel risks amid the ongoing pandemic, NDTV reported. Also Read - Delhi HC Seeks Amazon's Reply on Future Retail Plea to Restrain it From Interfering in Reliance Deal

“Amazon has refused to appear before the panel on October 28 and if no one on behalf of the e-commerce company appears before the panel it amounts to breach of privilege,” Meenakshi Lekhi said.

Earlier in the day, Facebook India policy head Ankhi Das appeared before a parliamentary panel. Company’s business head Ajit Mohan accompanied her. They were both grilled on data protection and asked some tough and searching questions by the members of the panel, sources said.

While introducing the draft bill in parliament last year, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said it empowers the government to ask companies — Facebook, Google and others — for anonymous personal and non-personal data. A section of legal experts say the proposed law could give the government unaccounted access to the personal data of users.

The panel has summoned officials of micro-blogging site Twitter on October 28, and Google and Paytm on October 29.