Possibilities have been developing around the nation regarding the need to link social media accounts with your Aadhar card to secure the truthfulness of the Identity of the social media user. This is being done because social media handles are being embezzled to create forged content and conspicuous hoaxes.

Initially, the matter fore-fronted when a PIL was filed by two private citizens of Tamil Nadu, Antony Clement Rubin and Janani Krishnamurthy about the linking of private social media accounts with the Aadhar number. The PIL stressed the linkage to track the origins and avoid the spread of fake news and anti-national content on social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram etc.

The case was primary running in respective states based high courts. However, different high courts seemed to have different opinions on the matter. Hence, the matter was moved to the supreme court and the decision of the court will apply uniformly across India. Initially, the matter was sought by the Tamil Nadu government which emphasized the need for linking social media accounts to avoid fake news, terrorism and digital violence. However, Facebook did not agree to the same. As claimed by Facebook, their messenger app Whatsapp’s data and chats and protected by end-to-end encryption and even they don’t have access to the same. Further, they suggest that linking the social media handles with the Aadhar Card will be a violation of user’s privacy.

K K Venugopal

Attorney General K K Venugopal was appearing on behalf of Tamil Nadu State Government said: “The linking of social media profiles of the users with the Aadhaar was needed to check fake news, defamatory articles, pornographic materials, anti-national and terror contents in the online media.”

Mukesh Rohatgi

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who is representing Facebook in the case alongside Kapil Sibal, said “Different High Courts are making various observations and it will be better if all these cases are transferred to the Supreme Court, as all these PILs case have more or less same prayers,” Rohatgi said.

Kapil Sibal

However, Facebook’s Plea for transfer of cased pending in Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh to Supreme Court was opposed by top law officers.

The Madras high court conducted multiple hearings about the same and had rejected the PIL stating that it violates the laws related to Aadhar. Aadhar bodies are not allowed to share Aadhar information with the third parties. Hence, if Aadhar was to be linked to social media platforms like Facebook, then they would get bio-metric and other information of the citizens of India encrypted in 12-digit Aadhar number. 

The Supreme Court has sought asked for the centre’s mediation in the matter in August. As a result, The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) got involved in the matter. MeitY has released fresh remarks raising concerns on the linking of Aadhar cards with the social media accounts. In the matter, the ministry has also a writer to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the entity responsible for the collection of the biometric data of users for Aadhar number.

The ministry also favours the Court’s decisions by supporting the view that Aadhar linkages will put sensitive information of the Indian citizens in perils. The main aim of the government behind the Aadhar Card was to let the benefits of the various government schemes reach the general public along and enduring marginalized communities with subsidies funded by the Consolidated Fund of India.

Venugopal focused on linking of Aadhar-card with the social media accounts to truncate the proliferating fake news, pornography, digital violence, and terrorist activities which are being conducted by forging identities on social media platforms.

After the petition was moved to the Supreme Court (SC) on request of Facebook Inc to avoid multiple cases going on in different high courts, an extended one month time has been granted for analyzing the documents submitted by Facebook to advocate their vindication about the violation of Facebook’s and Whatsapp’s privacy policy.

Facebook operates in more than 150 countries infecting 2 billion users around the world who operate social media handle daily. Facebook’s User Privacy Policies are followed uniformly around the world amongst all the countries and users. If the judgment is passed otherwise (not in favour of Facebook), it would have international repercussions amongst those users from 150 countries.

The case is taken to the central government level because it involves the legislation of India’s two major Law Acts, Information Act, 2000 and Aadhar Card Act, 2016. Both the acts focus on the extent of sharing of private information and access of the same by government and other entities. This was another reason for which the supreme court ordered the involvement of MeitY in the case.

The acquitting Attornies have case has also raised concern during the case about the infamous Blue Whale online game which took several young lives across Russia and India. The investigation for the same is already going on to find the players behind the game. However, as told by Rohatgi and Sibal, Facebook and Whatsapp were not involved in the matter anyhow and have nothing to do with the game.

The next hearing of the case is scheduled on September 13th, Friday.