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Parliament panel mulls action against Amazon

Topics Covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

Parliament panel mulls action against Amazon:


Joint Committee of Parliament is examining the draft Data Protection Bill.

  • Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, Google and Paytm are among the companies from whom the committee has sought views on data security and protection amid concerns that the privacy of users is being “compromised” for commercial interest.
  • However, Amazon has declined to depose before the panel, stating that its “subjects experts” cannot take the risk of traveling from the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Parliamentary Panel has said that Amazon’s “refusal” amounts to a breach of parliamentary privilege.

Questions asked by the House Panel:

  • Do social media giants obtain the consent of their users before their data is shared with third parties.
  • What is their revenue model, method of paying taxes, advertisers and the process of choosing target audience for these advertisers, background verification of its users including the process to find out the age of a new user.

Overview of the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019:

Key Provisions are Covered here:

  • What is personal data? Personal data pertains to characteristics, traits or attributes of identity, which can be used to identify an individual. Such characteristics or traits will also include any inference drawn from such data for the purpose of profiling.
  • Sensitive personal data includes personal data related to health, sex life, sexual orientation, financial data, among others.
  • The power to further categorise personal data as sensitive personal data will lie with the central government (in consultation with Data Protection Authority and the sector regulator concerned).
  • Personal data may be processed without obtaining the consent of the individual on certain grounds. These include: (1) if required by the State for providing benefits to the individual, and (2) for reasonable purposes specified by the Authority, such as fraud detection, debt recovery, and whistle blowing.
  • The Bill defines a social media intermediary as an intermediary which enables online interaction between users and allows for sharing of information.
  • All social media intermediaries which are classified as significant data fiduciaries must provide a voluntary user verification mechanism for all users in India.
  • The government can exempt any of its agencies from any or all provisions of the Act, for processing of personal data in certain cases. These include: (i) in interest of security of state, public order, sovereignty and integrity of India and friendly relations with foreign states, and (ii) for preventing incitement to commission of any cognisable offence relating to the above matters.
  • The Bill removes the provision for mandatory storage of all personal data in the country.

For complete details:


Prelims Link:

  1. Difference between Parliamentary vs Cabinet committees.
  2. Standing vs select vs finance committees.
  3. Who appoints chairperson and members of these committees?
  4. Committees exclusive to only Lok Sabha.
  5. Committees where Speaker is the chairperson.

Mains Link:

What are Parliamentary Standing committees? Why are they necessary? Discuss their roles and functions to bring out their significance.

Sources: the Hindu.