The Supreme Court has sought the help of the government’s top law officer after an alleged move by the UIDAI, the parent body which gives citizens their Aadhaar number, to monitor social media. The Attorney General will respond to the Supreme Court during the next hearing. A lawmaker of the Trinamool Congress filed a petition in the top court, alleging UIDAI is planning to engage a private agency to track activities of people on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and GooglePlus.
The UIDAI (Unique Identification Development of India) has floated tender; inviting agencies, to snoop on social media claimed Mahua Moitra, in her petition. Ms Miotra wants the tender to be cancelled.
The top court has agreed to examine the Trinamool lawmaker’s petition, after senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Ms Moitra, told the court that the matter has serious implications as it infringes on the fundamental right to privacy of citizens, by the UIDAI.
According to the petition, a Request for Proposal or RPF has been issued by the UIDAI to appoint a social media agency, with the task of employing a ‘Social Listening Tool’ to monitor posts on social networking platforms.
“Such an intrusive action on the part of the government, is not only without the authority of law, but brazenly infringes on the fundamental right to freedom of speech. Such an action of the government also violates the right of privacy. The UIDAI has decided to go ahead with the proposal despite the fact that a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court has reserved its verdict on the constitutional validity of Aadhaar scheme,” said Ms Moitra’s petition.
Justice DY Chandrachud, who is part of the five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra hearing petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar, said that the concerned ministry had issued a notification for creating a media hub to monitor content but it was withdrawn last month as per an assurance given by the centre to the Supreme Court.
The case comes at a time when the Supreme Court’s verdict on Aadhaar is expected any time before the end of this month.