What Will Happen If Your Aadhar Is Linked to Your Whatsapp?

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Technology is an integral part of our lives. Thus, finding the balance between the pros and cons that advanced technology and social media brings with it has become a requisite. The responsibility of finding the balance on a national level falls in the hands of governance systems and laws. When it comes to India the judiciary exercises paramount power.
While the law may inherently have long hands, if the balance is not caught properly, it may decide the date of the privacy of the citizens or crime. Multinational companies like Facebook Inc and Apple have been in troubled waters with the legal system of the United States of America for similar issues. Although Facebook (who acquired WhatsApp in 2014) is not new to this situation, the Aadhar vs WhatsApp case is unique in its way.
The Issue at Hand
The government had issued cases before the High Courts of Madras, Mumbai and Madhya Pradesh demanding to the link of Aadhar numbers with social media profiles of users. The Government claims that linking of Aadhar number with WhatsApp accounts will help in tracing the origins of Anti-national messages, defamatory content, pornographic content, and terrorist activities. They claim that Aadhar linkage will not only help to prevent crimes but also make it easy to catch criminals.
In Tamil Nadu, Attorney General K K Venugopal referred to the Blue Whale game as, claiming that many young lives were lost and that the government was not able to find out the curator of such messages; making it essential to link the Aadhar Number to arrest the perpetrators.
In response to the claims, Facebook and WhatsApp told the bench that it will be a breach of privacy if data is shared with third parties and that the likes of Blue Whale Game had nothing to do with their platforms.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear the plea of Facebook of transfer of cases related to the Aadhar linkage demands since any decision regarding the same will affect the global operations of the companies, Facebook and WhatsApp. The Supreme Court has given time till September 13 to send responses.
Possible Repercussions of Aadhar Linkage
If Aadhar number linkage with platforms like WhatsApp is made mandatory, it will violate user privacy. Currently, WhatsApp messages are an end to end encrypted and the company themselves have no access to the same. With Aadhar linkage, third parties including the Government will have access to the data which puts User Privacy at high risk. The move will be a violation of privacy which is a fundamental right and decisions will again spiral to the 
Not only will this move risk User Privacy but also it may weaken Aadhar legislation. Pavan Duggal, one of the top four Cyber Lawyers in the world, suggests that since there is no data privacy protection law as yet, the move will weaken Aadhar legislation.
 Since Data Localization is not yet mandatory, social media platforms store their data overseas. The draft Protection and Privacy bill are not yet placed before the Parliament. Therefore, if right now, we link Aadhar numbers to WhatsApp and other social media accounts, the Aadhar Data will be stored in data centres outside the country which hampers the integrity of Aadhar.
Many experts question if the linkage of Aadhar is the only viable solution to the problem at hand. They claim that many other ways such as having a dedicated legal framework to curb fake news are more efficient than Aadhar linkage and the proof of concept is shown by Malaysia as well. Amending section 79 of the Information Technology Act wherein an intermediary shall not be liable for any third party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted by him may also help curb fake news. 
Regarding the catching of culprits, a legal framework acting as the balance of law between protection of user’s privacy and combating crime will be more helpful than linking Aadhar number to WhatsApp accounts as pointed out by experts.
While the fate of our privacy lies with the Supreme Court, we can be assured by the fact that Big Brother is not watching us right now. Will the same be applicable next month? Time will tell. Till then, all we can do is follow the case to wait and watch how it unfolds.

- Sunidhi Shende

- Edited by Maitreyi Mehndiratta


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What Will Happen If Your Aadhar Is Linked to Your Whatsapp? What Will Happen If Your Aadhar Is Linked to Your Whatsapp? Reviewed by EMN on August 23, 2019 Rating: 5

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