Linking user profile with Aadhaar: SC to hear FB's plea

Linking user profile with Aadhaar: SC to hear FB's plea

Facebook-Aadhaar linkage hearing before Madras HC, but says no final order will be passed: SC

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that there was a need to find a balance between the individual's right to online privacy and the state's duty to detect crimes, as it sought a response from the Centre and others on a plea by Facebook to transfer to the top court petitions pending in several high courts on linking of Aadhaar to individual profile.

A bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose noted that there is a conflict between right of individuals and the jurisdiction of the court.

There has to be balance, what are to be condition in which information is to be given and to whom, the court said, as Attorney General K K Venugopal, along with Additional Advocate General Balaji Srinivasan, appearing for the Tamil Nadu government, opposed transfer of the petition pending in Madras High Court. Facebook sought a direction to transfer to the Supreme Court such petitions also pending in Bombay, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa High Courts.

Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Kapil Sibal, appearing for Facebook and WhatsApp respectively, contended that the Madras High Court was examining a matter which was at cross purpose of the apex court's verdict in K S Puttaswamy's case stating that the right to privacy would not allow a private entity to get Aadhaar data.

“We are objecting to the proceedings over there. Just see the magnitude of the problem and issues, we are all international organisations. Is it appropriate for one HC to examine it? These issues are important and must be examined here,” the counsel said.

The bench for its part said, “The issue is if at all this information is available. And in the given situation, for crime detection, can it be done?”

The counsel said the Aadhaar Ordinance allowing use of unique identity number has already been challenged here in the top court.

Venugopal then pointed out that both the companies had already participated in the hearing before the high court on 18 dates. He said sharing of information was must to solve cases of terrorism, defamation and pornography.

“It is a duty of the service provider to furnish info. WhatsApp is wholly owned by Facebook and they are the one and the same,” he said, asking why we should be denied the benefit of having high court's judgement on the issue. He also cited the instances of 'Blue Whale challenge' game which led to suicide of several youngsters.

The court, however, decided to issue notice to the Centre and Google, Twitter, YouTube and put the matter for consideration on September 13. It asked the high court to continue with the hearing but said no effective order should be passed till further orders.

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