On Monday, the Central government told the Supreme Court that linking individual profiles on social media platforms with Aadhaar or any verifiable government document will help detect crime and in preventing anti-social elements.
According to DNA, the submission came on a petition filed by Facebook Inc which sought transfer of petitions pending against the company from three high courts to the Supreme Court. The social media company, which also owns WhatsApp, had claimed that similar petitions in all high courts demanded linking of Aadhaar with social media accounts for better crime detection.
On Monday, Attorney General KK Venugopal appeared before the bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose and demanded that the case pending before the Madras High Court was nearing completion and the same should not be transferred to the apex court. Venugopal said the social media platforms do not require its users to submit any verification. He said there are instances of persons opening multiple accounts which are then used by anti-social elements to spread crime.
Appearing for Facebook, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi told a bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose that the transfers would serve the interests of justice by avoiding the possibility of conflicting decisions from the four common cases. Facebook told the court that two petitions have been filed in Madras High Court while one each in Bombay and Madhya Pradesh High Court. All the pleas have sought a declaration that Aadhaar or any other government authorised identity proof should be made mandatory to authenticate social media accounts.
Facebook said that it would suffer irreparable loss if the proceedings are not stayed at this stage, as conflicting decisions on the prayer seeking to link Aadhaar with social media platforms would adversely impact the petitioner's platform which is used throughout India. The plea also said that transfer would serve the interests of judicial economy and avoid forcing the parties to litigate the same issue in multiple forums.
The Madras High Court had expanded the scope of the case to consider the issue of online abuse and fake news being circulated through social media and also sought to define the liabilities of intermediaries in cases of fake news and cyber abuse. Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Google have submitted before the High Court that it is not possible for them to monitor each and every personal content.
(Inputs from Agencies)