SC seeks explanation from MLA over UIDAI apprehension

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked Trinamool Congress MLA Mahua Moitra to explain the basis of her apprehension over UIDAI

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked Trinamool Congress MLA Mahua Moitra to explain the basis of her apprehension over UIDAI that hiring an agency to monitor 'Aadhaar' related content on social media would mount surveillance on people's activity.

“It is expression of an opinion. What is the basis of it? The apprehension has to be reasonable and formed on some basis,” a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked advocate Mohammad Nizamuddin Pasha.

The counsel, appearing for the West Bengal legislator, contended that the move started by the Unique Identification Authority of India to monitor Aadhaar related sentiments on social media, would go against the Constitution bench decision on the validity of the 12-digit number for citizens. It would also violate the right to privacy, he said.

The bench, however, asked him to take the court to the pleadings made in the petition in this regard.

The counsel claimed the validity of Aadhaar was meant for social welfare schemes, and monitoring the social media platform like Twitter and Facebook, used by English-speaking strata of society, had nothing to do with the general public availing benefits of social welfare schemes of the government.

The court gave the petitioner two weeks time to “provide basis of her apprehension” that the UIDAI's decision would lead to "snooping on the citizens".

Earlier on September 11, the Union government told the court that it was willing to accommodate the suggestions of Moitra in the proposal of the UIDAI to hire a social media agency to monitor online platforms with regard to Aadhaar.

The petitioner had claimed the presence of private persons having technical expertise and sophisticated equipment at the premises of the UIDAI, to be connected to its network, raised concerns about the security of the Aadhaar database.

Her plea said the UIDAI, as per its bid document, was seeking to hire a social media agency that will employ 'online reputation management' and 'social listening' tools to monitor and influence conversations related to Aadhaar on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

A similar move by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in April was aborted after her plea before the top court.

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SC seeks explanation from MLA over UIDAI apprehension

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