Parl panel seeks more freedom for Indian online users

SansadTV Bureau
File Photo of Parliament Housing Building in New Delhi.

File Photo of Parliament Housing Building in New Delhi.

A parliamentary panel looking into the breach of data by Cambridge Analytica has asked the government to ensure that Indian users should not be forced to sign terms of consent on social media platforms.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology headed by BJP MP Anurag Thakur was briefed by the Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and other senior officials on the subject of citizens’ data security and privacy.

“During the meeting, the panel members batted for greater freedom for Indian users against compulsory signing up of ‘Terms of Consent’ agreement. Members said there is an urgent need to simplify this, instead of forcing users to tick every box while installing an application,” an MP, who attended the meeting, said.

In aftermath of the data breach by Cambridge Analytica, the members said the social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter should simplify their ‘Terms of Use’ and ‘Privacy Policy’ to make it transparent for the end user.

Another MP, who was present at the meeting, said the panel asked the home ministry officials to define terms such as ‘hacking’, ‘malware attack’ and ‘data breach’ before delving into how it had affected government agencies, Indian industry and citizens.

The members also questioned whether online cash transaction servers of the RBI should run on a single switch or multiple switches should be used to host the transactions all day, the source said.

The committee felt that a stronger security mechanism should be in place to check online fraud.

On the issue of Aadhaar, the members asked whether the government would consider using blockchain technology with Aadhaar to better protect the movement of citizens’ data.

Thakur also asked Home Secretary Gauba to put in writing the steps taken in the last four years for capacity building of the police force and skills training of government departments to protect the privacy of citizens online.

(With inputs from PTI)