The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear Facebook’s plea for transfer of cases related to linking Aadhaar number to social media profiles of users, pending before the high courts of Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh to the apex court.
The top court issued notice to the Centre, Google, Twitter, YouTube and others for their response by September 13.
A bench comprising justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose said the notices to unserved parties should be sent through e-mail.
The bench said the hearings in the cases pending before the Madras High Court may continue but no final order will be passed.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Tamil Nadu government told the bench that the Madras High Court has conducted 18 hearings so far and it should be allowed to conclude the argument and deliver the verdict in the cases.
Senior advocates Mukul Mohatgi for Facebook and Kapil Sibal for WhatsApp said the apex court needs to decide whether the service providers can be asked to share data with probe agencies to help them in criminal investigation as it will have a global effect.
They said that both Facebook and WhatsApp are international companies operating in over 150 countries and any finding by the Madras High Court would have a bearing on their global operations.
Venugopal referred to the Blue Whale game and said several young lives were lost due to directions given by the curator.
He said governments did not get any clue about the curator in the Blue Whale game and therefore it is necessary to find out who is the originator of such messages on social media which are defamatory, terror-oriented or fake news.
Both Facebook and WhatsApp told the bench that Blue Whale game has nothing to do with their platforms and if data is shared with third parties, it will be a breach of privacy.
To this, the bench said it seems to be a conflict between right to privacy and right to govern the country and the court has to maintain a balance between the two.
The Tamil Nadu government told the apex court on Monday that social media profiles of users need to be linked with Aadhaar numbers to check circulation of fake, defamatory and pornographic content as also anti-national and terror material.
Facebook had said that it cannot share Aadhaar number with a third party as the content on its instant messaging Whatsapp was end-to-end encrypted and even they do not have access to it. It had contended that there are four petitions including — two in Madras High Court, one in Bombay and one in Madhya Pradesh High Courts — and they contained almost similar prayers.―The Hindu Business Line