SC stops Madras HC from passing final orders on Aadhaar-social media linking, WhatsApp case
The top court issued notice to the Centre, Google, Twitter, YouTube and others and sought their response by September 13.
The order came after Facebook filed a Transfer Petition last week seeking a transfer of the case to the Supreme Court. The original PIL was filed by Antony Clement Rubin in July last year seeking interlinking of the Aadhaar database with social media profiles for authentication of identity.
The division bench of the Madras High Court, comprising Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad, since expanded the scope of the public interest litigations to include issues including curbing cybercrime and intermediary liability within the ambit of the legal proceedings.
The case is likely to impact WhatsApp, encrypted messaging platform owned by Facebook, as it has consistently resisted the government’s attempts to enable traceability to help law enforcers catch perpetrators of misinformation and rumours on the platform. WhatsApp sees traceability as a violation of user privacy. India is the largest market for WhatsApp, with 400 million people using the messaging application.
WhatsApp, Facebook, Google, Twitter, the central and Tamil Nadu governments are all parties to the case. Last month, the court allowed digital rights organisation, Internet Freedom Foundation, to act as an intervener in the case.
The outcome of this litigation could lead to a change in the product design of major social media platforms because law enforcement agencies want the Madras High Court to direct these companies to devise a mechanism to trace the originator of a message.