The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has just revealed new information regarding the existing Aadhaar Act. It revealed that currently the Aadhaar act does not support uses like linking with social media accounts. UIDAI also clarified that the current Aadhaar Act only allows Aadhaar linking for government schemes or government-sanctioned subsidies. This comes in response to a query from Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) regarding a order from the Supreme Court. Tracing the origin of the request, the report reveals that the matter started with Facebook. Supreme court decided to hear a plea from Facebook demanding transfer of four public interest litigations (PILs) regarding social media linking.
Aadhaar social media linking
According to a report by The Economic Times, during the hearing, the Supreme Court ask the government about its views on the matter of Aadhaar social media linking. As a result, MeitY reached out to UIDAI for an official response. UIDAI stated that Aadhaar Act only allows Aadhaar use in schemes and subsidies funded by Consolidated Fund of India. To enable this social media account linking with Aadhaar, the government needs to pass a new law. A government official added, “UIDAI has reiterated several times that it is blind to the usage of the number”. He added, “The usage can happen only if it is permitted by a law.”
Officials stated that such linking will not be “technically feasible” as simple linking will not serve any purpose. To make this effective, government also needs access to the mobile number or the address of the social media account. Current Aadhaar Act does not allow access to this personal data. This comes a week after a top official stated that social media accounts should not be linked with numbers.
The report also stated that government should be careful with the use of the Aadhaar number given the privacy concerns. Supreme Court restricted the use of Aadhaar to verify PAN, income tax returns and other government funded subsidies in 2018.