Data Privacy: It’s important and it’s something you NEED to care about!
In today’s world, where so much of our life is spent online on some site or the other, the definition of online privacy has drastically changed. Where before it meant to just safeguard your password and sensitive information, now it’s become something far more important. Senior technology writer Charlie Warzel said it best:
“When technology governs so many aspects of our lives — and when that technology is powered by the exploitation of our data — privacy isn’t just about knowing your secrets, it’s about autonomy”.
And if we wish to safeguard our autonomy, the right to govern our own actions and affairs, we have to start caring about our online privacy.
No matter what you do on the internet, it is inevitable that some of our data will be collected by websites, apps and programs. Cursory information collection is quite normal and in many cases required to experience the internet in a more curated way. Knowing from which region you are accessing a particular site allows it to display relevant information, instead of requiring you to trawl through its entire directory.
Data collection becomes a problem when it involves sensitive and personal data. Sensitive data includes your medical history, political beliefs, sexual orientation, etc. while personal info includes your email address, mobile number, home address or even your bank information. This data is then collected by data miners who sell it to the highest bidder. And it can go for as cheap as Rs. 2!
The argument for online privacy and monitoring data collection also include a demand for more autonomy and control over your online identity. When your data is harvested, you no longer have control over where it goes or who has access to it.
Been getting more spam calls and bogus messages off late? Most likely, your data has been bought and accessed by a company trying to get your attention. And spam is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the different problems you could face if your data is breached. There are countless cases where people have lost not only money from their bank account, but also had their identities stolen and used for nefarious purposes.
While spam calls and messages may not seem like a big problem, it is actually a very clear indication that your data is trading hands without your knowledge. Many times, we don’t even know that there has been an invasion of privacy until we experience some serious repercussions. If this was our privacy in real life at stake, we would be much more vigilant. Warzel states: “For survivors of abuse, privacy might mean the freedom to live safely without exposing sensitive location information to stalkers.” But the mask of the internet leads us to drop our guard. And this can make us lose control.
Most of us are aware, to some extent, that our information is being repurposed or resold. Since many of us don’t experience personal harm, we choose to prioritize what we believe is a convenient digital existence. But as communities around the world wake up to the threat of digital technologies, it’s become clear why it is important to protect ourselves and our loved ones online: our own personal information can be used to manipulate us, third parties can buy, sell and make use of this data while we are left in the dark.
#ReclaimYourPrivacy is our initiative to shine a light on these issues of online privacy so that it can become a topic of discussion on a much larger scale. We are discovering how, as users and as a community, we are losing our autonomy and decision-making power online. To solve this, we’re trying to bridge the gap in public knowledge about digital harms and empower individuals to take steps to protect themselves. But don’t just take our word for it; take a look at some privacy stories from real digital users below, if you would like to learn more:
How is your smartphone tracking you? One nation, tracked.
Do you have a smart speaker at home? Amazon workers are listening to what you tell Alexa.
Your WhatsApp messages might not be as secure as you think. Deepika Padukone’s drug chats EXPOSED.
Interested in learning more about the state of privacy in India? Visit https://reclaimyourprivacy.in/
Building an informed netizen is only the beginning — through our campaign we hope to continue to share online privacy hacks, and build a movement towards a safer, accessible internet. Keep checking back here to learn more and #ReclaimYourPrivacy.