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Of late, privacy has a become a topic of great importance. While the government is aiming for digital economy in India, let us have a look at how India can ensure minimum to no breach of privacy online.

Privacy over large networks online is a highly questionable and debatable topic. This is because lot of breaches have been experienced over the past few years. Recently, the electronic medical reports of 35,000 patients were leaked from a pathology lab in Maharashtra. Such is the threat regarding privacy in the digital world. With no proper guidelines and clarity on the above situation, it becomes very difficult for users to identify what kind of breach has occurred.

Here are some facts which you must know about how digitally advanced India is as a nation.

  • We are ranked first in terms of Google Play downloads.
  • We have almost 300 million smartphone users in our country. Each user having at least 15-20 apps on their network for daily usage.
  • You might find these facts of no use to this article. But they certainly are of great use.

So, all kinds of downloads require the acceptance of a term. A term that we ignore very conveniently.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Yes. Something which everyone ignores wistfully. This is exactly where the threat looms.

Most people using smartphones have their account numbers and passwords stored in their contact list or in notepads. These apps require access to the contacts, gallery, messages, notes etc. So the private information, if falls into the wrong hands, can literally create a lot of havoc.

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WhatsApp, until it wasn’t acquired was relatively safe. But now that it has been acquired by social media giant Facebook, it has become relatively unsafe. Both content and metadata of users can be accessed by Facebook. Now this data can be used for not only tracking but also monitoring its users.This again becomes a direct threat to the privacy of the users.

Fun fact:  Facebook has 241 million active users in India. WhatsApp has 200 million users in India. This makes India its biggest market.

Moving forth, there are CCTV cameras and mobile phones which are yet another big threat to privacy online. The idea is that we do not have an idea of who is viewing whom. Hence, everyone comes under the scanner without any sort of consent or permission. People do not pay attention to these slight details.And have minimum to no idea of how the laws work.And hence get duped easily.

According to a research by Vidhi Centre for legal policy, the laws framed for protecting privacy online are inadequate. A lot of changes should be made in order to make India safer digitally.

Aadhar cards are a potential threat to privacy.

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Let me explain how that works. Aadhar works on bio metric. Something which allows identification even in an unconscious state. Many websites can drip information in small packets and are doing so. These efforts to effectively scrape sensitive data online is a threat. Many websites can have access to Aadhar number which can give a fair outline of the identity of the individual.

Moreover, individuals save their credit card numbers etc on Amazon, Paytm, Flipkart, Netflix for easy purchase. But what if the credit card numbers get leaked online. In order to save ourselves from such a situation, effective measures must be taken.

Here are some of the precautionary steps one can take: 

1. Apps which use personal information should destroy the data soon after use. This way the data would not fall in wrong hands.

2. Setting up a nodal agency for the convenience of people is an alternate option. This cell will help educate people about cyber laws. It will also solve their grievances.

3. The end user agreements should be written in a more easy-to-understand language. Such that the user reads the terms and conditions and understands it as well. 

4. People, in general, aren’t aware of the privacy issues related to CCTV cameras. Hence, having a simplified approach towards privacy related to CCTV cameras would be of great help.India should also have a privacy law on the use of pictures taken by the CCTV cameras.

5. According to a research, 75% users never read the privacy policy.  People should be urged to pay attention to these things.

6. There are minimum to non-existent laws on cyber security. Even if there are any, they are very confusing. Hence, better laws with better implementation are yet another step to be taken.

7. There should be a fair amount of freedom given to consumer insights. Also, transparency could be maintained in terms of the networks used in hosting the data.

8. Penalties and fines for breach of privacy would also be a safety measure.

9. Technological innovation in terms of better and even more secure software should be worked on. Software with better encryption and decryption algorithms would be preferred.

10. The government is yet to give a proper definition to the word privacy. 

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Now that India is aiming for digital advancement, privacy should be a matter of concern.

People should have a fair idea of what privacy means. And the government should be their confidant in that sense. Online Privacy is at a great risk these days. Better laws and education can be a corrective measure.

Until that happens, be safe online!

 


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