WhatsApp traceability: Madras HC to take up next hearing on September 19

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Published: August 22, 2019 4:50:04 AM

The division bench, which heard the case, in oral remarks said it was looking at how the social media companies could work together with the law enforcement agencies in a bid to curb the cybercrimes and it would not entertain the plea for Aadhaar linkage.

WhatsApp traceability, Madras HC, WhatsApp,  WhatsApp india, WhatsApp  news, industry news, IITThe PIL has been kept pending to examine ways in which social media companies may cooperate with agencies to investigate and curb online crimes.

The Madras High Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing on the public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions to curb cybercrime in social media platforms to September 19.  The Supreme Court had on Tuesday directed that while Madras HC may hear the PIL, the court should not pass final or effective orders until the apex court decides on a transfer petition filed by Facebook to move all the related matters to the Supreme Court. The next hearing at the Supreme Court has been slated for September 13.

The division bench, which heard the case, in oral remarks said it was looking at how the social media companies could work together with the law enforcement agencies in a bid to curb the cybercrimes and it would not entertain the plea for Aadhaar linkage.

The PIL has been kept pending to examine ways in which social media companies may cooperate with agencies to investigate and curb online crimes. When the matter came up for hearing on Wednesday, senior advocate and former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for Facebook, requested the division bench of Justice S Manikumar and Justice Subramonium Prasad, to adjourn the matter in the wake of Supreme Court order. It would be a waste of the court’s time if the bench continues hearing on the matter before the Supreme Court decided on whether it should be transferred, he said.

Advocate general of Tamil Nadu, Vijay Narayan, submitted that as per the Supreme Court order, high court may continue hearing the matter even though no final orders should be passed. In view of this specific direction, it could carry on with the argument, he added.
Facebook had sought transfer of all the cases pending in various high courts including Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh, to Supreme Court, since all the petitions raise the same question on whether private entities can use Aadhaar numbers of individuals.

The Tamil Nadu government had proposed linking of social media profiles to Aadhaar numbers with a view to control the origin of terror messages, pornography, fake news and other related crimes. The state government had also said that it is working with the experts in Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M) on the traceability of WhatsApp messages.

IIT-M professor at the department of computer science and engineering, V Kamakoti, had come out with a suggestion that WhatsApp can include the contact number of the author of the message, which will entail the message wherever it was forwarded.

The PIL before the Madras HC was filed by Antony Clement Rubin against the Union of India, ministry of communications, the state government, commissioner of police, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google and the ministry of external affairs, among others, seeking the court’s direction to mandate linking of an identity proof while registering a new email ID or user account in order to address the issue of cybercrimes in social media.

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