After the Supreme Court warning to the government of India about the privacy implications of linking Aadhaar to social media accounts, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has issued strong disapproval of the potential move.
The UIDAI has clearly stated that the government will have to enact a new law to link Aadhaar to social media accounts of individuals. The reason, according to UIDAI, is that the current legislation only enables the use of Aadhaar for schemes and subsidies funded under the Consolidated Fund of India. For anything outside the purview of this fund, a new law has to be put in place.
The UIDAI statement comes after the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) had written to the UIDAI seeking its view after the Supreme Court had urged the central government to state its opinion on the matter last month.
Meanwhile, Antony Clement Rubin, who had filed the original PIL in the Madras High Court asking to link Aadhaar with an individual’s social media account, submitted another request recently to amend his original petition and allow any government-approved identity to be used to verify the accounts, not just Aadhaar.
The original petition, filed last year in July in Chennai, demanded linking of social media handles with Aadhaar. During the course of the hearings since then, Madras HC included issues such as message traceability, curbing cybercrimes and intermediary liability to the petition.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, the central government’s top law officer, had recommended that such a move would help stamp out crime, terrorism and fake news. The government contends that these issues can be resolved if the anti-social elements behind fake news and rumour-mongering were identified.
Earlier, Facebook and WhatsApp had strongly objected to Aadhaar linking, claiming it would affect the privacy of its users. But the TN government was clear that Facebook’s arguments have no merit since the business model of Facebook is depending on data sharing. There is also a popular opinion that Aadhaar-social media linking would not be technically feasible. Some feel that linking Aadhaar with social media accounts will not serve many purposes, besides letting the government keep an eye on every citizen’s social media posts.