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| @ | August 14,2019

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ACEBOOK and WhatsApp on Tuesday moved Supreme Court for the transfer of several writ petitions that sought to link individual social media accounts to Aadhaar numbers.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice BR Gavai agreed to hear Facebook and its owned company WhatsApp plea for transfer of the two writ petitions filed before Madras High Court by Antony Clement Rubin and Janani Krishnamurthy.

The case regarding transfer of the matters from Madras High Court would be heard by the apex court on August 19.

Sources told The Leaflet that the matter was shifted to August 19 as Facebook relied on the fact that the Aadhaar Amendment Ordinance was under challenge, and no one in court had a copy of that writ petition. The court asked Facebook to furnish a copy of the petition challenging Aadhaar Ordinances on Wednesday.

One of the petitioners Janani Krishnamurthy told The Leaflet that she had not been given notice of the transfer petition “I feel that they are moving the case to Delhi (SC) and they think we won’t react after this.”

The petitioner added that her request for the linkage was to the Government, and she was not concerned with Facebook’s moves.

The case, which is the first one in India on user traceability on social media platforms, is central to the issue of privacy, experts say.

Speaking on the larger issue of traceability, IIF founder Apar Gupta told The Leaflet, “This could result in several harms including the real name policies on social media — it could harm anyone who doesn’t have the power in society. It could harm the #MeToo movement, activists, not to mention members of the LGBT+ community.”

The writ petitions were last heard by the division bench of Madras HC comprising Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad. Barring any intervention by the top court, the DB fixed August 21, 2019, as the next date of hearing.

The petitions filed before the Madras DB sought mandatory linkage between peoples’ Aadhaar card – the Government’s already controversial biometric ID for Indian citizens – with their Whatsapp accounts.

The petitions further say that the petitioners think linkage should be mandatory to curb “the rising instances of humiliation, disgrace and defamation [through] cyber-bullying and other intolerable activities on social media.”

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