'How Much Money Do You Make?': Google, Paytm Questioned By Lawmakers

Google and Paytm officials were questioned by a parliamentary standing committee.

New Delhi:

How much money does Google make in India and how much Chinese investment does Paytm have, officials from the two tech giants were asked on Thursday by a parliamentary committee looking into the Personal Data Protection Bill, according to sources.

Officials of Google and Paytm were summoned by the parliamentary panel headed by BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi. Following concerns raised by the Congress over the 2019 bill, the committee is looking into the matter and involving all stakeholders for an overview.

According to sources, the examination of Google and Paytm officials focused on the growing “conflict of interest” – these companies are themselves the main tech platform, seller, provider of financial services and advertisers as well.

“Both Google and Paytm were asked about the Chinese investments in their companies. Google was specifically asked about the links they had with China,” a source said.

“Google was asked about the quantum of corporate tax they pay in India and the total revenue generated by Google products like Google Pay, YouTube. They have been asked to submit details in writing before the joint committee,” they said.

The MPs also asked Google how neutral they are in terms of managing and advertising their content online since they had the “control button”.

The lawmakers asked about where the two companies hosted the personal data of users and why.

Before Google and Paytm, officials from Facebook and Twitter have appeared before the parliamentary committee. Facebook officials had appeared before the committee last Friday while Twitter reps appeared at 11 am on Tuesday.

Former Facebook executive Ankhi Das – whose name cropped up in a recent controversy over Facebook’s alleged bias in dealing with hate speeches – appeared before the panel and was questioned for two hours, sources said. She resigned from the company three days later.

Officials of the online retail giant Amazon, also appeared before the committee on Tuesday and gave oral evidence for almost three-and-a half-hours.

While introducing the draft bill in parliament last year, union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said it empowers the government to ask firms like Facebook, Google and others for anonymous personal and non-personal data.

But there were concerns about the government accessing personal data of users. The opposition Congress had concerns regarding the use of such data in some cases, especially where national security is involved.



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