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The Tamil Nadu Government stressed to the Supreme Court the need of linking the social media accounts of people to their Aadhar Cards. The Supreme Court maintained that they need to find a grey area between upholding the citizens’ privacy and curbing rampant cyberbullying and spread of fake news. This has put India’s judicial system at loggerheads with themselves, and with Facebook Inc. who, in a stroke of irony, feel this move will violate their users’ privacy.

We explore the black, white and grey sides of this conundrum.


Black

“Extremis malis, extrema remedia” – Desperate times call for desperate measures

It is not wrong to worry about what is being let into social media in the country. Monitoring content is something which the state should have a right over. In this golden age of instant news and far spread connectivity, rumours and fabricated news spread faster than wildfire. An individual, with malicious intent, can more than succeed in disrupting peace and harmony by simply moving communal sentiments by creating a made-up story and publishing it for the masses to read and react explosively. One cannot turn a blind eye to the rampant cyberbullying and cybercrime that has become the norm due to unregulated media on the Internet, under the garb of freedom. Linking social media accounts to respective Aadhar cards does not mean “ruling with an iron fist” but would just make our lives more tranquil.


White

“Condemnant quod non intellegunt” – They condemn that which they do not understand.

In a country of 1.3 billion, it is rather preposterous someone would try to justify as gross a violation of privacy as this. Now that our country can boast about privacy being a fundamental right, this move would take us ten steps back. Moreover, we do not exactly know what structure this rule will follow and what exactly it entails for the guilty and the abused. We can’t help but feel that this move is similar to a dystopian surveillance tool to keep our liberty in check and punish whoever, whenever the state deems fit. The state also seems to forget its own inadequacy; fake Aadhar cards being prevalent in a lot of states, and the fact that one can get them made easily is a direct challenge to the very fundamentals of what the state wishes to impose. Lastly, as if the State wasn’t (already) satisfied with putting our personal information at risk from third parties, it would like to do the same with our messages and thoughts.


Grey

“Malum consilium quod mutari non potest” – It is a bad plan that cannot be changed.

There is no denying how bad the communal situation in the country is, and definitely not deniable that it is mostly attributable to the extensive misinformation which spreads throughout. This moving of sentiment affects major corporations as well; Zomato, Swiggy and the likes have all fallen victim to this. The question, however, remains whether control – which can be termed necessary in these circumstances – should come from a violation of a fundamental right of ours. The state and the people should try and explore the other side of the spectrum. The curbing of misinformation should come as an initiative by the people ourselves, the state aiding us to achieve this. Education and cross-checking based defiance of fake news and well-established machinery to counter cyberbullying and cybercrime will be the best move forward – for the country and its people.


By Aaradhya Daga

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