Mahua Moitra, the outspoken Member of Parliament of Trinamool Congress and the member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Informational Technologies, has sought to be impleaded as the respondent of the WhatsApp (all social media ) message traceability case. The WhatsApp and Facebook message traceability case has been registered and is being heard at Madras High Court.

Key Takeaways:

  • Moitra Mahua seeks to implead herself in the case of linking social media with Aadhar and the traceability of social media messages. 
  • The WhatsApp and Facebook message traceability case has been registered and being heard at Madras High Court.
  • The court has denied the possibility of linking the Aadhar with social media accounts but has considered the traceability of the social media messages. 
  • Mahua has submitted another petition seeking to implead herself in the case by citing various reasons how the traceability of messages and Aadhar linking of social media is a breach of privacy. 

The case of the traceability of social media messages:

Amidst the necessity of linking all the essential possession with one’s Aadhar, a petition was filed at Madras High Court that wanted the social media accounts and its messages to be linked with Aadhar cards too. Similar cases of linking Aadhaar were filled in Bombay and Madhya Pradesh High Courts.

Amidst the necessity of linking all the essential possession with one’s Aadhar, a petition was filed at Madras High Court that wanted the social media accounts and its messages to be linked with Aadhar cards too.

Though the high court denied the possibility of linking social media with Aadhar, it considered the purview of the petition that wanted more visibility and traceability of social media messages. Consequently, the major social media platforms, WatsApp, Facebook, twitter, YouTube were impleaded in the case.

As a lead-on to this, Facebook has filed a transfer petition in the Supreme Court to avoid any clash of the decision at the High Court. The transfer petition is under proceedings at the Supreme Court and Madras HC has been ordered not to make any decisions until the proceedings continue.

 Mahua files a petition seeking to implead herself in the case

Mahua has also filed a petition at the Madras High Court objecting the case. She said that the case of traceability of social media messages is curbing the individual privacy rights. They serve to undermine the end-to-end encryption of online communication and increase traceability of users on online platforms like WhatsApp, Twitter etc. She cites various reasons in her petition how the privacy of the individual is being affected.

The vulnerability of technically unskilled

Mahua further said, “Technically skilled persons will always be able to use simple workarounds to mask their own phone numbers, or instead link messages to someone else’s number; technically unskilled individuals and laypersons would also be made more vulnerable by having their contact information exposed, thereby further eroding online safety and privacy norms,”

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The danger of online invasion of privacy and loss of self-security

With no digital privacy and a sense of security, the online invasion of privacy will raid the real lives of human in various ways. In the petition, Mahua mentions about the harmful effects of online invasion of privacy and says, “The linking, indexing and permanent association of such communication to their identities would amount to a serious invasion of their expectation or privacy in the private spheres of their life, and have a significant chilling effect on the usage of any technology by Indian citizens,” The access to the social media accounts in different ways will only undermine the privacy policies of the platform and might increase the chances of hacking and other serious cyber crimes.

She has also expressed her concern about how the social media companies have more than enough access to our privacy and the case allowing the traceability of messages will further increase it.

Social media companies’ increased access to privacy

She has also expressed her concern about how the social media companies have more than enough access to our privacy and the case allowing the traceability of messages will further increase it. She said, “I am further concerned by the extent to which such companies may further impinge on my right to privacy when they are required to link my identity with a valid form of governmental identification.”

Right To Privacy

The Indian Constitution has clearly provided the citizens with the right to privacy and the breach of privacy can be considered a punishable offence. However, as Mahua says, social media platforms have a lot of information about an individual’s life. In this way, social media accounts share the same identity and status of sacrosanct privacy as the citizen herself. So any breach in the privacy of the social media should be viewed under the purview of the breach of the right to privacy granted to a citizen.

Picture Credit: DNA India

Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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