India: JPC quizzes cab-hailers Uber, Ola over data, investments

Cars on Howrah Bridge. Photo: Rohit Arora/unsplash

The joint parliamentary committee (JPC) on data protection bill met on Thursday and questioned app-based cab hiring services – Ola and Uber – about their investment pattern in the companies and transfer of critical data.

In one round of meeting each with representatives of both Ola and Uber, parliamentarians part of the committee questioned the two companies over data mining and security of data. Members of the committee pointed out that there were instances when data was hacked and the company was fined in the past.

“Both the companies agree about data localisation but they also wanted clarification on critical sensitive data transfer and mining of data,” said a person in the know of development.

Members of the committee further said that both the companies have been asked about their investment pattern and have been asked to give a written reply on the issue. “Members also wanted to know about the possibility of an incident of data hacking. The reply would be sent in writing by the representatives of the two companies,” said those in the know of development.

The JPC on personal data protection bill, has been engaging with a number of digital and social media companies. Over the last fortnight, the committee has engaged with representatives of Google, Paytm, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and Jio to discuss not just various facets of the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 but also to understand their provisions on data safety, privacy and investment patterns among other issues.

According to another person aware of developments, parliamentarians in the committee meeting on Thursday also questioned the two cab hiring companies about storage of data in their systems and what was the provision over deleting such personal data.

Queries sent to Ola and Uber from Mint over the parliamentary committee meeting on Thursday remained unanswered. The parliamentary committee has called another round of meetings on Friday, third day this week, to seek views of representatives of telecom company Bharti Airtel Ltd and caller identification app, Truecaller on issues related the bill.

The Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha in December last year and seeks to establish a Data Protection Authority. Amid concerns from lawmakers over citizens’ right to privacy, it was sent to the joint parliamentary committee.

This article was first published on livemint.com.

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.