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Parliament Panel on IT chaired by Tharoor may summon Facebook whistleblowers

Tharoor said permission is being sought from Lok Sabha speaker

Shashi Tharoor Shashi Tharoor

Facebook whistleblowers may be called to India later this month to depose before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology, with the required permission being sought from the Lok Sabha speaker, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who is the chairman of the panel, said on Monday.

Frances Haugen, a former Facebook data scientist-turned-whistleblower, has alleged that the social network giant's products harm children and fuel polarisation in the United States. She has testified before the US Senate Committee.

In a series of tweets responding to the allegation that neither Parliament nor the government has called the Facebook whistleblowers, Tharoor said the parliamentary panel did not exist between September 12 and October 12. It was officially reconstituted in the second week of October.

It had to then adopt its agenda, submit it to the speaker and have it bulletinised before it could convene any meeting, the Congress MP said.

"...the Committee will hold its first meetings of the new session on November 16 and November 17. Under our procedures video conferencing is not permitted. Testimony in person by witnesses from abroad requires the Speaker's consent. This is being sought," he said.

Top officials of the Indian arms of social media giants Facebook and Twitter and others have deposed before the parliamentary panel on various contentious issues.

Tharoor was earlier criticised by the BJP members of the panel, who sought his removal as its chairman. 

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