Facebook Inc has filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking transfer of cases pending in three High Courts for linking social media accounts with Aadhaar.
The bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose deferred the hearing of the transfer petition till Tuesday.
The petition has been filed stating that the cases pending in the High Courts of Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh seek substantially similar reliefs and involve same or substantially similar questions of law.
"Transfer would serve the interests of justice by avoiding the possibility of conflicting decisions from the four common cases. Indeed, avoiding conflicting decisions is particularly necessary here to ensure that users are afforded equal privacy protections across India, and to prevent the infeasible situation where the Petitioner, which operates a uniform platform across India is ordered to link Aadhaar information for users only in certain Indian states but not others", stated the transfer petition.
Since the petition involves interpretation of central legislations such as Information Technology Act, 2000 and Aadhaar Act, 2016, it is ideal that the Supreme Court adjudicates the issue, the petition stated.
The petitions in High Courts essentially seek a declaration that Aadhaar or any other government authorized identity proof should be made mandatory to authenticate social media accounts. This will curb the menace created by fake and anonymous profiles, according to the petitioners.
While hearing two such petitions, the Madras HC had expanded the scope of the case to consider the issue of online abuse and fake news being circulated through social media. The Court also sought to define the liabilities of intermediaries in cases of fake news and cyber abuse. 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 Madras HC 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.