Recently many state governments like Tamil Nadu preluded a demand to interlink Aadhar with social media accounts on the ground that it harms unity, it is used to spread fake news and hatred and to promote terrorism, etc. To this, the Supreme Court will be the interpreter coming January, in 2020, that either the linking will violate privacy under Article 21 that their own nine-judge bench judgment upheld and curbs freedom of speech and expression (Article 19).
However, on this, a very blatant argument is given that there is no fundamental right that is ‘permanent’ and there is always a back door of ‘reasonable restriction’ which is fortunately/unfortunately hidden in the matter of social media and its linking with Aadhar. However, the real question is whether linking one’s Aadhar with social media will really be a feasible solution.
Firstly, Aadhar is only for Indian citizens. The social media platform is used to spread fake news and hatred by non-state or even state actors, so how will Aadhar help catch a person who is sitting outside India and dumping the garbage of hate in India?
One just needs to search for shoes (just for an example) or any product on any site (Amazon, Flipkart, etc) you will get so many recommendations that it will force you to buy the product, and after that, the same will be recommended to your friend’s and relatives that they will end up purchasing this product too! So, saying that privacy is involved in this matter (the Aadhar-linking and social media) is just a ‘jumla’ (roughly translated to mean ‘just meaningless words’), as well as the government saying we need to link Aadhar with social media when really, there is nothing that can be hidden!
Social media is not only misused, but it is also used in the most credible ways in many cases like the recent #MeToo movement where a large number of women raised their voices through anonymous social media accounts. So, if people’s Aadhar would be linked with social media, such social movements cannot take place when a majority of the politician and rich people are involved. How can marginalised people come to the limelight when they are under the fear of being harassed?
Without a data protection act or law, the linking of Aadhar will serve to boost the business of e-commerce sites in India. Aadhar is something like an invisible shade over the little bit of physical security or privacy we have. By linking Aadhar with social media without data protection laws is like “come bull, do hit me” (a popular saying in Hindi).
Fake news, hate, etc, are not only spread by fake accounts. In many cases, even accounts run by the ‘real-name’ account holder do this very proudly because of the lack of fear of law and the lack of deterrence. Sometimes, it is because politician’s themselves are hired to do this. So if nothing is being done about them then what’s the logic behind linking social media with Aadhar?
Our Constitution gives the ‘Right to Constitutional Remedies’ under Article 32 and 226. Thus one can directly go to the court in case of the violation of the fundamental right, so, I feel that linking social media with one’s Aadhar card will just increase the burden of the court as to which action is lawful and which is unlawful and on what grounds or content the consumer account was banned.
The biggest challenge will be on ensuring accountability and transparency, and how this will be ensured. What the Supreme Court will is in the future, but the government has much work to do before knocking the door of the Supreme Court, like creating laws on data protection, laws on mob lynching, hate speech, paid news, and more.
I feel that linking Aadhar with social media is just a dangerous jumla which will dissolve the line between regulation and surveillance.