This case deals with the issue of retaining a person’s login credentials on social media during the course of an investigation. The petitioner ‘Power TV’, approached the HC for quashing an FIR filed against it for airing a program. The TV programme exposed illegal financial dealing and corrupt practices by the family members of the present Chief Minister of Karnataka. Certain audio clips, allegedly containing the conversations of the respondents were also aired by the news channel. Another complaint was also registered against Power TV for extortion.
‘Whether the investigating agency can retain the user’s name and password of social media/ digital platforms like Facebook and YouTube pending investigation?’
“The Facebook and YouTube accounts are important aspects of the petitioner’s business to carry out his day-to-day business and the police cannot on the ground of investigation block the same. For the purpose of investigation, only the integrity of the data is required to be preserved and that can be done by downloading the relevant content from the accounts of the prisoner, in the presence of the petitioner and adhering to proper procedure.”
A person’s username and password on social media/ digital platforms like Facebook or YouTube are personal in nature without which the person cannot access the digital platform. The court directed the investigating authority to hand over new login credentials of the Facebook and YouTube accounts of the petitioner within seven days from the date of receipt of the certified copy of the order.
Citation: W.P. No. 111169 of 2020
Court: Karnataka High Court