With an aim to fight serious issues such as child abuse in India, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has asked the various social media companies to start using Microsoft’s PhotoDNA to scan images on the platforms.
For the unacquainted, Microsoft’s PhotoDNA is a tool meant for scanning pictures, specifically the ones which exhibit child exploitation. The tool is free to use for anyone.
It works by creating hashes of images and then comparing different hashes with one another (using a database) in order to figure out the derogatory ones.
Additionally, the PhotoDNA tech is currently being used by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), along with various tech companies, NGOs and developers.
A notice directed by CBI, under Section 79 of CrPC (the Code of Criminal Procedure) states:
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“For the purpose of the 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.”
However, the use of PhotoDNA technology would also mean an invasion of user privacy on social media platforms.
Given that Microsoft’s tech is primarily used to identify child abuse cases, the usage of PhotoDNA for any other purpose can be a violation of the main purpose. It remains to be seen what impact the use of PhotoDNA tech will have on the users as well as the social media sites.