An Indian lawmaker said on Friday that Amazon’s representative in India refused to attend the parliamentary meeting to review the country’s privacy bill. This is an accusation by an American business giant and the result of a misunderstanding.

Meenakshi Lekhi, chairman of the parliamentary group that is reviewing the Indian government’s Personal Data Protection Act, said that officials’ refusal to submit the bill on October 28 could lead to “coercive action” against the company.

Some industry executives said the bill could harm foreign technology companies and force them to change the way they store data. As part of the group discussions, it regularly discusses with technology companies.

Lekki said: “Amazon is developing a huge business in India… If it does not appear before the committee, it may take coercive measures.” He did not explain the action taken.

When asked to comment on Lekhi’s remarks, Amazon said in a statement that it would continue to contact the panel of experts, misunderstanding its status, and would work to clarify this position.

The Amazon statement said: “Due to travel restrictions, our experts were unable to travel from overseas and were executed by the JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee) the ongoing pandemic. This may have been misunderstood and led to a misunderstanding,” the Amazon statement said.

In addition, Facebook representatives appeared on the committee on Friday. Another member of the panel, who did not want to be named, said that Twitter has been asked to appear on October 28, while digital payment companies Paytm and Alphabet’s Google will appear on October 29.

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The lawmaker added that if company executives do not appear before Congress when asked, they may constitute a violation of parliamentary privileges and may even be sentenced to prison.

India has been drafting some regulations for the technology sector, and industry executives said that this could hurt the investment plans of foreign technology giants.

The Indian government is also considering new policies for e-commerce and regulates so-called “non-personal” data.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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