UIDAI ready to address objections to its move to set up social media wing, SC told

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday was told that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) was ready to address the objection to its move to set up a social media wing to identify “top detractors” and “neutralise negative sentiments” in relation to Aadhaar.

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud that they are ready to address suggestions and accommodate them.

The Attorney General’s response came to a PIL by TMC lawmaker in the West Bengal assembly Mauha Moitra seeking the quashing of the Request for Proposal (RFP) for hiring a private agency to monitor the social media platform to track “top detractors” of Aadhaar scheme and counter them.

The private agency that would act as UIDAI’s social media agency would employ “a top rated” social listening tool to track and monitor online conversations relating to Aadhaar.”

“This monitoring activity shall extend to Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, YouTube, Google Play Store, news websites, Instagram, Linkedin, blog platforms, consumer forums etc so that issues related to Aadhaar can be understood” says the RFP.

It further says, “The tool shall be capable of doing a sentiment analysis of all such conversations and flag any discrepancy in sentiments trend.”

Petitioner Moitra has contended that the move to hire private social media agency for tracking and monitoring the social media platforms is violative of Articles 14, 19(1)(a) and 21 of the Constitution.

“Despite the fact that the constitutional validity of the entire Aadhaar scheme is under challenge and its fate is to be decided by the top court, the respondents have issued the impugned RFP to identify ‘top detractors’ and ‘neutralise’ negative sentiments,” the petition by Moitra said.

“It is therefore clear that the respondents have no respect or regard for the proceedings before this court”, the petition says, adding it amounts to infringement of the right to privacy of an individual.