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Madras HC Allows IFF To Intervene To Oppose Plea For Linking Aadhaar With Social Media Accounts

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
28 Jun 2019 4:21 AM GMT
Madras HC Allows IFF To Intervene To Oppose Plea For Linking Aadhaar With Social Media Accounts
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The Madras High Court on Thursday allowed Internet Freedom Foundation(IFF) to intervene in the petitions which seek directions to link Aadhaar with social media accounts.The IFF opposes interlinking of Aadhaar and social media profiles on the ground that it will result in vesting unbridled power on social media companies over the lives of users, resulting in infringement of privacy...

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The Madras High Court on Thursday allowed Internet Freedom Foundation(IFF) to intervene in the petitions which seek directions to link Aadhaar with social media accounts.

The IFF opposes interlinking of Aadhaar and social media profiles on the ground that it will result in vesting unbridled power on social media companies over the lives of users, resulting in infringement of privacy rights.

"it would allow social media companies to gather deeper, more granular information about their users. A government ID, especially one such as Aadhaar which has a common identifier would permit them to link the personal data on the social media platform more easily. This would result in more pervasive dossiers of social media users available to the highest bidder who can serve us then with ads across platforms. Not to mention it would also increase the harms to speech by chilling dissenting voices", said the IFF.

The petitions are filed by Antony Clement Rubin and Janani Krishnamurthy seeking a declaration that Aadhaar or any other government authorized identity proof should be used to authenticate social media accounts. This will curb the menace created by fake and anonymous profiles, according to the petitioners.

The IFF expresses the apprehension that linking Aadhaar with social media profiles will pave way for more surveillance and invasion of privacy.  Less restrictive alternatives such as other means of verification, controls by platforms, restrictions on accessing certain types of features and content should be explored before requiring an authentication measure which is likely to cause more harm than good, said the intervention application filed through Advocates Arun Karthik Mohan and Suhrith Parthasarathy.

Aadhaar linking will silence the voices of those who use pseudonyms to express dissenting and critical opinions against the government, IFF points out. 

Welcoming the order of the High Court allowing IFF to intervene, its executive director Apar Gupta said :"Given the pervasive use of social media in our lives and the existing tools to harvest and utilise data for marketing purposes, not to mention, individualised advertisements, the entire gathering of personal data itself has been a constant cause for concern in the law few years. Adding Aadhaar to this cocktail for the purpose of verification of identity would arguably create further harm".

The Court is also examining the larger issue of online abuse and misinformation which lead to law and order disturbances. Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and Google have submitted before the Court that it is not possible for them to monitor each and every personal content.

Senior Advocate Arvind P Datar, appearing for Whatsapp, informed the Court that since the communications between users are end-to-end encrypted, Whatsapp cannot pass on the information to third parties. All that it can do is to share Basic Subscriber Information regarding the mobile number, email address, device etc. of the user.

Senior Advocate PS Raman, Satish Parasaran and R Murari ,appearing for Google, Facebook and Twitter respectively, submitted that BSI of users can be shared with law enforcement agencies. 

On April 25, the Division Bench of Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad had directed the Tamil Nadu Government to arrange an interactive session between law enforcement agencies and social media intermediaries to discuss means to detect online crimes and control cyber abuse and misinformation.




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