Social media accounts don’t need to be linked with the Aadhaar Card — Ravi Shankar Prasad tells the Lok Sabha
- Union Minister
Ravi Shankar Prasadtold Lok Sabhathat there are no plans to link social media profiles to Aadhaar cards.
- This comes after the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (
MeitY) was told by the Unique Identification Authority of India ( UIDAI) that they would need a new law linking social media accounts to Aadhaar.
- Global internet firms also expressed concern that such a move violates user privacy.
"There is no proposal with MeitY to link social media profiles of users with their Aadhaar number," Ravi Shankar Prasad responded to a question posed in Lok Sabha.
He also outlined five measures that the government has already implemented to keep a check on the spread of misinformation.
Excerpts from Shankar’s response:
- MeitY interacted with social media platforms particularly WhatsApp. Further, social media platforms have implemented a number of steps to address the issue of fake news propagated using their platform.
- Information Technology Act, 2000, inter alia, has provisions to deal with obscenity and pornography.
- Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued a number of advisories which includes advisory on cyber-crime prevention and control dated 13.01.2018 and also an advisory on incidents of lynching by mobs in some States fueled by rumours of lifting/kidnapping of children dated 04.07.2018.
- Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as well as the police are in regular touch with various social media platforms to address the issues of removal of unlawful content as well as spread of fake news, misinformation/disinformation on the internet.
- MeitY through a programme, namely, Information Security Education & Awareness (ISEA), has been highlighting the importance of following the ethics while using the Internet and advice not to share rumors or fake news. A dedicated website for information security awareness (https://www.infosecawareness.in) provides relevant awareness material.
In September last year, the Tamil Nadu government told the Supreme Court that social media profiles should be linked to Aadhaar numbers to keep a check on fake news, pornographic and ‘anti-national’ content.
Social media platforms, on the other hand, have been fighting against any such move. Their argument is that linking profiles to Aadhaar would violate user privacy.
UIDAI told the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) that since social media platforms are not a part of the Aadhaar Act, a new law would have to be put in place in order to enforce any such accountability.
An open letter to the government
In October, the Supreme Court issued a deadline for the central government to come out with new rules and regulations by 15 January 2020 and directed all pending cases pertaining to social media to be transferred to them.
The IT intermediary draft rules were floated in December 2018. However, three internet giants — Mozilla, Github, and Cloudfare — wrote an open letter to Prasad calling for public consultation before the new rules are made official.
According to the companies, the new rules would amplify the operational and legal burden on new organisations creating an entry barrier. They also pointed out that it is nearly impossible to “proactively” monitor online platforms.
"We understand and respect the need to ensure that the internet is a safe space where large platforms take appropriate responsibility. However, the last version of these amendments, which were available in the public domain, suggest that the rules will promote automated censorship, tilt the playing field in favour of large players, substantially increase surveillance, and prompt a fragmentation of the internet in India that would harm users while failing to empower Indians," read the letter.
The final draft of the bill is likely to be tabled during the March 2020 session.
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