New law needed for Aadhaar-social media linkage: UIDAI
Aadhaar Act only allows the use of Aadhaar for schemes and subsidies which are funded out of Consolidated Fund of India.
In a response to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on September 13, UIDAI said the Aadhaar Act only allowed the identity document’s use in schemes and subsidies funded out of the Consolidated Fund of India. Therefore, for anything outside the purview of the Act, a new law would have to be put in place, it said.
ET reported earlier that MeitY had written to the UIDAI seeking its view after the Supreme Court asked the central government’s opinion on the matter last month.
This came after the top court agreed to hear a plea by social media company Facebook seeking the transfer of four public interest litigations (PILs), pending before the Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh high courts, on the Aadhaar-social media linkage.
“UIDAI responded to say that the government will need a new law if social media has to be linked to Aadhaar,” a government official said. When asked whether it was technically feasible to link social media accounts with the unique identity number, he said that would depend on the implementation agency. “UIDAI has reiterated several times that it is blind to the usage of the number and the usage can happen only if it is permitted by a law,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
Government officials are of the view that such a linkage would not be technically feasible since just linking the Aadhaar number with social media accounts would not serve any purpose.
Government authorities would need underlying details of social media users, including the address or mobile number, which is not allowed under the Aadhaar Act.
Antony Clement Rubin, who filed the PIL in the Madras High Court seeking to link the Aadhaar number with an individual’s social media account, submitted a request last week to amend his original petition to allow any government-approved identity be used to verify the accounts, not only Aadhaar.
Social media accounts should not be linked with Aadhaar, a top government official had told ET last week, arguing that use of the twelve-digit unique identity number should be carefully contemplated given the privacy concerns around it.
In 2018, the apex court had restricted Aadhaar’s mandatory use only to verify permanent account number (PAN), income tax returns and for central government subsidies funded from the Consolidated Fund of India. This was later incorporated in the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which was amended recently to allow telecom and banking companies to use Aadhaar to collect Know Your Customer information, albeit voluntarily with a customer’s consent.