UIDAI revokes tender for social media surveillance
The Unique Identification Agency of India has dropped a contentious and controversial plan to set up a social media monitoring hub, Attorney General of India KK Venugopal informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The law officer did not provide a reason for this but said UIDAI is withdrawing the tender floated by it in May 2018 for setting up a social media monitoring hub. “It may be noted that UIDAI neither has no plans to revive the same tender nor is floating a similar tender again,” he said during a petition by All India Trinamool Congress Member of Parliament Mahua Moitra challenging the plan.
UIDAI, in May 2018, floated a tender for hiring an agency for social media management services through Central Public Procurement (CPP) portal, but put the process on hold after Moitra filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court in July 2018.
UIDAI’s original defence was that the plan was to counter “negative sentiments” on Aadhaar.
Moitra’s PIL raised questions over the government plan to track social media accounts of citizens.
A similar attempt by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to create a social media hub to map social media accounts was nipped after the top court commented it was a step towards creating a “surveillance state. ”
UIDAI’s lawyer refused to be quoted on the matter.
Moitra tweeted about her “victory”, tagging her counsel, Abhishek Manu Singhvi. “Huge victory today- on my petition UIDAI tells Supreme Court they are withdrawing tender for intended Social Media Surveillance Hub and says not planning to float any more in near future,” she tweeted.