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Will You Link Your Social Media Profiles with Aadhaar

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Recently, the Supreme court is hearing a petition by TN government to link all social media profiles to Aadhaar. Read on to know more…

Recently, the Supreme court is hearing a petition by Tamil Nadu government to link all social media profiles to Aadhaar. But this idea is challenged by Facebook Inc in the Supreme Court of India. The Supreme Court of India has since issued notices to the Government of India, the Commissioner of Police, the State of Tamil Nadu and social network companies including Twitter and Google.

Why Linking of Social Media Profiles
So, why does the government of Tamil Nadu want to pursue the petition in the Supreme court on linking various social media profiles of users in India with Aadhaar number? Well, the Tamil Nadu government believes that the linking of social media accounts with Aadhaar numbers will help in combating and tracking fake news, malicious posts, content that poses a danger of inciting violence, dangerous games such as Blue Whale and any anti-national posts.

Good Idea
While this idea of linking all social media profiles of users in India to Aadhaar number is a good one does add a face or an identity to what could otherwise be a typical anonymous online identity. The argument that can go in favour is also that the Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements are standard for, and enforced to the fullest, in the case of banking apps, mobile wallets and even for mobile connections. This is not to say that the contents or your usage habits are tracked. But it is to simply have a record of who owns the particular account or service.

Ground Reality
But again, this idea of linking all social media profiles of users in India to Aadhaar number has its own challenges. Various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have millions of users globally.

The ground reality is that no country in the world are the users required to link an identification proof with their online social media profiles. That said, cyber bullying, fake news and all the other drawbacks that come with the often anonymous presence on the internet, are all prevalent globally. Any mandatory linking requirement of Aadhaar or any other identity document issued by the government goes against the guidelines of the Constitution Bench in the Aadhaar case. One cannot negate the fact that this will involve interpreting the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2019.

Facebook Inc is resisting the state’s suggestion on grounds that sharing of 12-digit Aadhaar number, the Biometric Unique Identity, would violate privacy policy of users. Another legal entanglement is that Facebook Inc has argued that WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted. This means that even Facebook Inc cannot read the contents of the encrypted WhatsApp messages.

Pros and Cons
Here, the Tamil Nadu government’s primary motive is to simply add the strand of responsibility to all social media accounts of users by linking them to Aadhaar number. If the social media accounts are KYC compliant, it may become easier to trace a user if a malicious or potentially problematic post is found online.

This debate will probably continue to rage on and will be around because such an implementation could lead to question about users’ data privacy.

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