NEW DELHI:The Supreme Court on Friday deferred the Aadhaar social media linkage matter concerning Facebook for September 24.
Asking the government for its stance on the matter and the draft intermediary guidelines and stressing that the matter needs to be decided as early as possible, justice Deepak Gupta said the court may give more time if the union of India is considering framing something in the near future.
Social media giant Facebook was seeking a transfer of cases pending before the high courts of Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh to the apex court seeking linking of social media profiles of users with the Aadhaar number.
The transfer petition seeking transfer of four cases from different high courts to Supreme Court was listed before Supreme Court bench comprising of justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for WhatsApp and Facebook was represented by senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi. Sibal told the Supreme Court that there were two pleas against the Madras High Court order. The Tamil Nadu government has filed an application for a modification of its earlier order.
Both WhatsApp and Facebook have filed special leave petitions against the last Madras High Court order of August 21.
The court has ordered for listing of all applications on September 24.
“We are concerned given that the draft rules had certain proposals which would have undermined free expression and privacy. The draft intermediary rules which have been widely acknowledged and commented upon had several problematic aspects which would undermine freedom of speech as well as privacy for online users ,” said Apar Gupta, executive director of the digital advocacy group Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), which was an intervenor in the Madras High Court matter and a respondent in the transfer petition.
Two writ petitions were filed in the Madras High Court in July 2018, praying for the interlinking of Aadhaar with social media accounts for identity authentication purposes. The court then expanded the petition to include issues like ‘curbing cybercrime and intermediary liability’ in the proceedings.
In the last hearing, the Supreme Court asked for issuing of notices to centre and social media entities including YouTube, Google and Twitter on Facebook’s plea for the transfer petition of a public interest litigation for linking Aadhaar to open an account so that the originator of the message can be found out.