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Parliamentary panel asks Twitter for affidavit on geo-tagging glitch

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

The Joint Committee of Parliament on the Data Protection Bill Sought an affidavit from Twitter inc, the US based parent company of the social media platform asking them as to why it showed Ladakh as a part of China.


  • Geotagging is the process of adding geographical identification metadata to various media such as a geotagged photograph or video, websites, SMS messages , QR Codes or RSS feeds and is a form of geospatial metadata.
  • This data usually consists of latitude and longitude coordinates, though they can also include altitude, bearing, distance, accuracy data and place names and perhaps even a time stamp.
  • Geotagging can help users find a wide variety of location-specific information from a device. For instance, someone can find images taken near a given location by entering latitude and longitude coordinates into a suitable image search engine.
  • Geotagging-enabled information services can also potentially be used to find location-based news, websites, or other resources.
  • Geotagging can tell users the location of the content of a given picture or other media or the point of view, and conversely on some media platforms show media relevant to a given location.
  • The related term geocoding refers to the process of taking non-coordinate-based geographical identifiers, such as a street address, and finding associated geographic coordinates (or vice versa for reverse geocoding). Such techniques can be used together with geotagging to provide alternative search techniques.

Dangers of Geotagging 

  • Following a scientific study and several demonstrative websites, a discussion on the privacy implications of geotagging has raised public attention.
  • In particular, the automatic embedding of geotags in pictures taken with smartphones is often ignored by cell-phone users. As a result, people are often not aware that the photos they publish on the Internet have been geotagged.
  • Publishing photos and other media tagged with exact geolocation on the Internet allows random people to track an individual’s location and correlate it with other information. 
  • Therefore, criminals could find out when homes are empty because their inhabitants posted geotagged and timestamped information both about their home address and their vacation residence. 
  • Another newly realised danger of geotagging is the location information provided to criminal gangs and poachers on the whereabouts of often endangered animals. This can effectively make tourists scouts for these poachers, so geotagging should be turned off when photographing these animals.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023