‘Terrorists can’t claim right to privacy’: Govt tells SC on Aadhaar-social media linking

The Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to transfer all cases related to linking Aadhaar with social media accounts to itself.

A bench of the top court, comprising, justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, allowed Facebook’s plea seeking transfer of a batch of petitions that sought linking of Aadhaar with social media accounts. The petitions, pending in the Madras, Madhya Pradesh and Bombay high court, said such linking will prevent criminal elements from taking advantage of social media.

The SC asked the registry to place all the matters before the Chief Justice of India so that it can be listed for hearing in January next year.

The court order came after Attorney General K K Venugopal, who was representing Tamil Nadu, dropped his opposition to Facebook plea for transfer of cases.

The Centre was represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who said the rules were not a ploy to breach individual privacy of but an attempt to protect national security and sovereignty, news agency PTI reported.

Attorney General Venugopal added that a terrorist cannot claim his right to privacy, PTI added.

On Monday, the Centre had told the Supreme Court that it will finalise and notify rules for social media and digital media platforms within three months i.e by January 2020.

The government said that draft rules are ready but they need to be discussed with other ministries and vetted by the law ministry.

The rules on “intermediary liability” are key to the tackling of hate speech, fake news, and other unlawful activities. Social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp identify themselves as intermediaries and insist they can’t regulate content.

The government defines intermediaries as telecom service providers, network service providers, internet service providers, web-hosting service providers, search engines, e-payment sites, e-auction sites, e-market places and cyber cafes.

In a hearing on September 24, the SC had asked the government to file an affidavit within three weeks on the timeline for drafting regulations for social media companies.

The top court had also told the government that the rules should strike a balance between state sovereignty and individual privacy.

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