IT Ministry Said to Not Favour Aadhaar-Social Media Linkage, No Official Position Yet

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The Information Technology Ministry may not be in favour of linking Aadhaar with social media profiles under the reasoning that it clashes with earlier judgements on privacy and use of the biometric identification card has to be carefully thought over before any decision to let it be used on public platforms like social media.

Sources said on Friday that linking Aadhaar to social media is not favourable, as it clashes with the earlier judgements on privacy. Use of Aadhaar has to be carefully thought of before linking it to the social media from all angles. To catch the source of fake, indecent, provoctive, anti-national sources of information, comments or news, Aadhaar is not the instrument, they said.

There was, however, no official position on this yet, sources clarified.

The IT Department is expected to submit its stand on the issue to the apex court. But what eventually goes in the submission at the SC, that only depends on wider consultations the ministry has with Law Ministry which is also headed by IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

The Ministry has also consulted the UIDAI, the nodal department of Aadhaar, but sources declined to tell what views it has given to the IT ministry.

The Supreme Court on Friday said the issue of linking social media profiles with Aadhaar needs to be decided at the earliest, and asked the Centre to inform whether it is contemplating any such plan.

The Tamil Nadu government had on Thursday had said Facebook and other social media companies were not complying with Indian laws, resulting in “increased lawlessness” and difficulties in “detecting crime”. The state opposed Facebook’s plea seeking transfer of cases to the SC, requesting the apex court to allow the Madras High Court to hear on the case related to the mandatory linking of social media profiles with Aadhaar number or any other government-authorised identity proof.

Both Facebook and WhatsApp had told the apex court that a case of this magnitude, where policy issues are involved and the privacy of the entire nation would be affected, should be heard by the highest court of the country. The social networking giant is wanting transfer of the four petitions on the WhatsApp traceability issue to the Supreme Court.

On August 20, the Supreme Court had sought a response from the Centre, Google, WhatsApp, Twitter, YouTube and others on Facebook Inc’s plea seeking transfer of cases related to linking of social media accounts with Aadhaar, pending in different high courts to the apex court.

Facebook has contended that whether service providers can be asked to share data with probe agencies to help them in criminal investigation needs to be decided by the apex court as it will have a global effect.

Linking it to the privacy concerns, it had said that sharing of data with the third party involves privacy concerns of users spread across the country and the case of this magnitude should be heard at the apex court.

The top court had asked social media companies including Facebook and WhatsApp to explain what would be the effect of recent amendments in Aadhaar Act by which the 12-digit unique identity number could be shared with the private party for the larger public interest.

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