High Court (India)

August 20, 2019

Social media accounts linking with Aadhar: Facebook moves SC to club cases


[ by Legal Era News Network ]

Facebook-Aadhar

The Tamil Nadu Government has suggested the Supreme Court of India that the 12-digit Aadhar numbers be linked with social media profile of users in order to check circulation of fake, defamatory and pornographic content as also anti-national and terror material. However the Tamil Nadu Government is facing resistance from Facebook Inc on the ground that sharing of 12-digit Aadhar number, the Biometric Unique Identity, would violate the privacy policy of users.

Facebook Inc has moved the Supreme Court asking it to club and hear cases pending in the three High Courts of Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh to link social media accounts with the 12-digit Aadhar number.

Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the state government, opposed Facebook’s plea seeking transfer of the cases to the Apex Court.

According to Facebook Inc, it cannot share the Aadhaar number with a third party as the content on its instant messaging Whatsapp was end-to-end encrypted and even they did not have access to it.

Facebook has contended that there are four petitions -- two in Madras High Court, one in Bombay High Court and one in Madhya Pradesh High Court. According to Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for Facebook Inc, different High Courts make different observations and therefore it would be better if all the cases are transferred to the Supreme Court.

The common questions in all the petitions before the High Courts involve the interpretation of laws such as Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 which would directly impact the Centre and State.

The main intent behind transfer of the cases to the SC was to avoid the possibility of conflicting decisions from the different High Courts. In this case, it is necessary to avoid conflicting decisions to ensure that users are afforded equal privacy protection across the country. The other intent is to prevent an infeasible situation where Facebook which operates a uniform platform across India is ordered to link Aadhaar information for users only in certain Indian states but not others.

According to the petition, “Transfer would serve the interests of judicial economy and avoid forcing the parties to litigate the same issue in multiple forums.”

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