What if you were caught and filmed by the traffic police for drunk driving and the photograph posted on online platforms? What if an old photograph along with a former spouse is affecting your relationship with your current spouse? Will mistakes in personal life remain in public knowledge for generations?
The Right to be Forgotten, referred to as RTBF, guarantees us the right to have private information about a person be removed from Internet searches and other directories under reasonable circumstances. With the law in place as part of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance (not in India), the platform provider has to delete all personal data or any other data pertaining to that specific user. However, contrary to user expectations, they continue to receive quasi-similar experiences while requesting for deletion of data.
Intellectuals across the world have referred this to as ‘respect to access of information as an ‘international human right’. In this modern age of information technology, data is touted as gold and there is enough evidence that almost all online services we use today are pressurising users to generate and share data in exchange of monetary gains.
Are we private on social media?
Social media can be handled well. It’s the greatest way to promote a product and make people think of you in a positive way. It can be a great way to get in touch with old friends, or just keep an eye on what your family tree is up to.
Based on interactions on social media, every behavioural aspect of an individual is being monitored, documented and harvested for probable commercial use. Technology organisations are stealing your private words, actions, conversations and photos and making them public, without context and without compassion. The marketplace has emerged where public shaming is a commodity and shame is an industry.
Too much information sharing on social media leads to a few issues like cyber-stalking, live location disclosure, social profiling, phishing, identity theft, blackmailing, third party personal information disclosure and government use of social media platforms in investigations even without a search warrant! If social media platforms are not managed well, they can ruin your life. There is an increasing concern in digital, personal and health wellbeing issues due to the over-usage of social media and these platforms have created chaos for users.
Social media by definition has a very invasive approach towards privacy and there’s no way to completely block people. There is nothing on the internet that can be permanently erased. It’s wise to keep your social media accounts ‘Private’ unless you’re a celebrity or business owner or political party member, or social activist.
Cookies are making us public
In the pretext of providing better user experience, most technology companies have fostered the development of cookie-like tracking systems that are harder for a user to detect or delete, and can provide marketers with a rich source of data about an individual.
The publishing and advertising ecosystem available on all online platforms must reform and gain the trust lost due to widespread bad practices. Technology companies should move towards a universal opt-out for users who do not wish to be tracked.
Social media links on Right to be Forgotten: –
End-user is the largest stakeholder but they are ill-informed about the consequences of their personal data’s collection, processing, and monetisation. Clause 20 under Chapter V of the Personal Data Protection Draft Bill titled ‘Rights of Data Principal’ mentions the ‘Right to be Forgotten’. It states that the principal owner of the data shall have the right to restrict or prevent the continuing disclosure of his personal data by online platforms or intermediaries.
We should have technology experts, civil society, academia and judicial experts along with the government to look into all the possible facets of Right to Privacy and Right to be Forgotten and recommend in a suitable manner in which it can provide a guideline that does not hinder the civil rights of citizens. More important is that legislators should learn how the internet actually works before passing legislation of a global reach.
Law shouldn’t only be seen as an approach to solve the problem. Instead, it is up to the end-users to understand how valuable their private information is and educate themselves on what happens to personal data if it is publicly available.
Stay Tuned to Cyber Talk for more on internet ethics and digital wellness brought to you by Anil Rachamalla, End Now Foundation, www.endnowfoundation.org
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