Amid growing privacy concerns across the world, including India, Facebook, the world’s largest social network, plans to hire a public policy expert in India. With nearly 25 million active users in India, Facebook lags behind Google, which counts nearly 60 million users in the country.
As these Internet giants seek to expand their base in India’s lucrative Internet market, they face challenges of regulatory hurdles, misinterpreted features and lack of awareness among government departments. Last month, Bangalore asked Google to stop collecting images for its Street View service on security concerns.
“Companies are realising that they have to liaison with the government to ensure that their perspectives are reaching the right ears. Corporates are picking up to influence policy development as it happens and also want to sensitise the government for potential requirements that the sector demands that directly affect companies like Facebook,” said Pawan Duggal, a lawyer specialising in IT laws and Internet.
In a job posting, Facebook said the new head of public policy to be based in Delhi, will “actively promote of the uses of Facebook with policymakers and influencers in both electoral and governing bodies.” The need for internet companies to engage with the government and even lobby, comes in wake of the amendment of the Indian IT act of 2008 – a tool with which the government regulates content on the internet.
When contacted by ETon Thursday, officials at the public relations agency handling Facebook’s communications in India said none of the company officials were available for a comment. Companies in possession of third party data have come under the scanner as the government has drafted regulations for companies dealing, handling or processing sensitive personal data on April 11, 2011.
The social networking behemoth which has close to four crore users in India is keen on hiring someone who can be a bridge between the government and the company. The practice of having a public policy head is not new. Google has had a policy team in place since 2006 which has ties with the government to influence policy making. Like governments across the globe, the Indian government too is increasingly scrutinising data and information put out by Internet firms such as Google.
Google’s latest transparency report released for India, states that there were 282 item removal requests of which 199 were for YouTube alone where 100 items were for defamation and 53 were for privacy and security. Google either partially or fully complied with 22% of the requests filed in 2010.