WhatsApp traceability case: Tamil Nadu government wants Supreme Court to dismiss Facebook’s transfer petition

It has filed a response to the apex court suggesting to transfer the cases to the Madras High Court


The state of Tamil Nadu is trying to get Facebook’s transfer petition dismissed by the Supreme Court of India.

Advocate General Vijay Narayan filed the state’s response to the Supreme Court today (12 September) along with asking the apex court to allow the Madras High Court to hear and pass the appropriate judgement on the matter relating to the WhatsApp traceability case. According to Narayan, the TN state government wanted to pass judgement on this at the state level.

Facebook had filed a transfer petition in August to the Supreme Court, pertaining to a lawsuit regarding the government's petition for WhatsApp to enable traceability of its messages. The Supreme Court agreed to hear a plea of Facebook for the transfer of cases related to demands for linking of social media profiles of users with Aadhaar number, pending before the high courts of Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh to the apex court.

WhatsApp traceability case: Tamil Nadu government wants Supreme Court to dismiss Facebook’s transfer petition

A man poses with a smartphone in front of displayed Whatsapp logo in this illustration September 14, 2017. Image: Reuters.

The top court issued a notice to the Centre, Google, Twitter, YouTube, and others and sought their response by 13 September.

The bench said the hearing in cases related to the linkage of social media user profiles with Aadhaar pending before the Madras High Court will continue but no final order will be passed.

Coming from a Medianama exclusive report, the Tamil Nadu state’s response stated that Facebook's transfer petition is based on “frivolous ground” and it suppresses “material facts and documents”. The state also argued that Facebook’s privacy is a “red herring”, shedding light on the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the company’s business model of commercialising user’s data for targeted advertising.

Facebook’s transfer plea is an effort to transfer all the four petitions that are pending in the High Courts of Madras, Bombay and Jabalpur, wanting to link Aadhaar with social media accounts. However, the Madras High Court cited its own order that passed a judgement that the linking was not possible and had to be abandoned.

It went on to suggest the Supreme Court transfer all the cases to the Madras High Court or to continue the proceedings in the respective courts where the verdict is still pending. The TN submission mentioned that social media companies haven’t been really compliant with law enforcement agencies even though there were operating from India.

You can read more about all the arguments placed by the TN government to the Supreme Court against Facebook in Medianama’s full coverage of the responses.

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