The Supreme Court on Friday asked the government to elaborate on its plans to link social media accounts with Aadhaar. The SC bench, headed by Justice Deepak Gupta, asked the Centre if it was considering to take a step forward in framing some policy to regulate and link social media accounts with Aadhaar. The court’s next date of hearing for the same is 24th September.
According to reports, Justice Gupta said, “We will only be hearing on the question of transfer and will not look into the merits.”
The case refers to the petition filed by Facebook seeking transfer of claims against Whatsapp traceability to the top authority. The company believes that they would suffer an irreversible loss if the proceedings were not paused and the linking would adversely impact its platform used throughout the country. In the case, Facebook and Whatsapp had firmly objected against Aadhar linking, saying it would interfere with the user’s right to privacy which has been upheld by the apex court as the fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
The original petitions that were filed in Chennai in July the previous year demanded to link Aadhar cards to social media handles. The Madras High Court had then extended the petition to include issues such as ensuring message traceability to ‘curbing cybercrimes and intermediary liability.‘ The top court had agreed to hear Facebook’s transfer petition on PILs (Public Interest Litigations) against Whatsapp’s traceability issue pending at the Madras High court, Bombay High Court and in Madhya Pradesh.
The Tamil Nadu government stated that the platform’s plea about the “fallacious” reference to privacy was brought by it to distract the SC from the company’s non-compliance with the Indian law. The TN government told the court that Facebook’s concerns on its user’s privacy go against their primary business model of commercializing user data through targetted advertisements.
According to reports by Hindu, the State had requested to show how Chennai’s Police Cyber Cell had sent social media firms around 1,940 requests for information related to various cases and investigations between 2016-18. Among these, 885, 155, and 11 requests were sent to Facebook, Youtube, and Whatsapp, respectively. The reply received by the State Police was the Internet Protocol log details on 484 requests including 221 submitted by Facebook, four by Youtube, one by Twitter and none by Whatsapp. The TN government stated that the companies had refused to part the information for 1,456 cases.