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SC to hear Facebook’s transfer petition on Aug 20, needs time to consider

Update (August 19 5:11 pm): In a hearing that lasted less than 15 minutes on August 19, the division bench of the Supreme Court, constituting Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, adjourned the matter till August 20 as the bench needed some time to consider the documents filed by Facebook for the transfer petition.

Story (August 13 12:09 pm): Earlier this morning, a Supreme Court division bench constituting Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice B.R. Gavai said that they would hear Facebook and WhatsApp’s plea to move the traceability case to the SC on August 19, sources who were at the hearing told MediaNama. Facebook has filed a petition to transfer the case looking at enforcing traceability on WhatsApp to the Supreme Court. It is currently subjudice in Madras High Court. The bench also asked Facebook to submit writ petition number 679/19 by tomorrow, the Internet Freedom Foundation tweeted:

Please note that this transfer petition has been filed by Facebook, and all the other Big Tech firms, including WhatsApp, are respondents in the case.

The case in the Madras High Court, which might lead to enforcement of traceability in WhatsApp, had been filed in 2018 as a PIL by Antony Clement Rubin (WP. No. 20774/2018) and Janani Krishnamurthy (W.P. No. 20214/2018) that sought a writ mandamus (special order by court) to ‘declare the linking of Aadhaar or any one of the Government authorized identity proof as mandatory for the purpose of authentication while obtaining any email or user account’.

Rubin told MediaNama that he hadn’t been informed of this development.

In an earlier hearing, Madras High Court division bench constituting Justices S. Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad had expanded the scope of the PILs to include issues such as curbing cybercrime and intermediary liability within the ambit of the legal proceedings. Thus far, they made Internet Freedom Foundation an intervener in this case, and sought technical submissions on the possibility of traceability from IIT Madras computer science professor Dr V. Kamakoti, and a response from WhatsApp. WhatsApp’s response needs to be submitted by August 14.

Follow our comprehensive reportage of this case:

Update (August 19 5:11 pm): Headline changed to “SC to hear Facebook’s transfer petition on Aug 20, needs time to consider” from “Facebook moves SC to hear the WhatsApp traceability case, SC to hear transfer petition on Aug 19”

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