Cyber Security
Representational picture

Just when the displeasure over the Ministry of Home Affairs' notification giving 10 government agencies powers to snoop on citizens seems to be slowly dying down, here comes another move that is irking many social media users.

The Central Bureau of Investigation has now asked social media platforms to run PhotoDNA as part of an investigation into regular criminal cases.

The CBI has issued a notification for the same under under Section 91 of CrPC, and has said: "For the purpose of investigation, you are requested to conduct PhotoDNA in respect of photographs CBI asks social media firms to use intrusive photo tech to track suspects enclosed herewith. The said information is required very urgently for the purpose of investigation," reported the Indian Express.

Social media platforms are reportedly yet to respond to the request.

While CBI might have said that this is for the purpose of investigating crimes in the country, it is raising serious concerns among social media users as the platforms will not be able to run a surveillance search on one particular account and the photos on it. Social media platforms will have to run a surveillance search across their data base, which means it would breach the privacy of all the users, suspects or not.

The move is in violation of one's right of privacy, which was upheld as a Fundamental Right by the Supreme Court earlier this year.

Microsoft-owned PhotoDNA is, in fact, used exclusively to identify child exploitation images on social media, and platforms such as Twitter and Facebook do not permit its usage for anything except the particular crime.

Speaking of how these privacy concerns were valid, Apar Gupta, executive director, Internet Freedom Foundation, told IE: "If any police or investigative agency is using PhotoDNA for a general crime investigation, it is a massive breach of the intended purpose of this technology, which is only for checking child sex abuse cases. This is the slippery slope of surveillance and censorship."