Quietus, Thy Name Is “Privacy” [Concept Of Privacy Needs Rebirth]

Posted on December 15, 2010 in Society

By A M Radhika:

Once upon a time, walls had ears too. Now they require an ENT surgery. Privacy is a dying word, a remembrance of times when there was a cloud for one to be under. When existent was a distributed life you experienced alone, monologue existed and keenly watching your neighbours’ window looking for aunty-gossip was the only possible breach, usually requiring binoculars. Where you were or going that moment or how beautiful the sunset was etched the memory of moderately paced times that didn’t remain with harsh realities of ‘Twitpic’ and Flickr. Also, you couldn’t shout out so easily to the world your thoughts of news, religion, philosophy, sports, people etc. and record certain things that wouldn’t be spared space for in your neurons. See in these examples how the homo sapien became the solitude starved human:

Scene 1: It’s been thirty minutes and your teen-aged daughter has her room shut. You knock, assuming you were the kid’s go-to-folk. She opens after a while. When asked what she was doing, she replies, “Ah. Nothing, Mom! You want to watch TV?” Hands over the remote, puts back her on-full-volume headphones and turns back to the computer and pops out a chat window. Little do you know she ‘Liked’ a Facebook page that reads, ‘I am not hiding anything. I just like the door shut!’ Stranger to you, isn’t she? Golly Wolly!

Scene 2: What is the biggest problem the new-age jobseekers and credit card holders face alike? Answer: Random people calling them US time and/or spamming mailboxes asking whether they’d purchased Jantu Lal’s car insurance or Moti Bhai’s mutual funds or better still, gave a purchase order for a customized Honda Accord! Source of contact details: Jobs/bank websites. Well, you needed both the job & the account didn’t you?

Scene 3: You’re intently working on your office computer basking in the glory of text mushrooming on your screen every 9th microsecond. In the back of your head you feel someone’s watching you. You turn around in a start (and an adrenalin rush).  Sincere Self: meet the colleague’s I-know-what-you-do-on-Gtalk face. You hate that colleague now. You were with a client. In any case, where do you knock in a cubicle?

Personal space is non-existent. The more we connect ourselves to the world, the more a village we make of our globe, the need for distancing ourselves increases.

A serious stark contrast: Necessitation of right to privacy being the issue in question, Mr. Ratan Tata asked for a bar on the leaks of tapped telephonic conversations that allegedly link hundreds of crores worth of lobbying in relation to the 2G spectrum licensing scam, following the publication by magazines apparently without authorization.

Question in passing: What would you do if your phone conversations were released on web like this?

So what, on the other hand? You are known to the world. An open book. How does that make a difference? People at work, home and social circle want to know what you’re up to constantly. You oblige. Anyone from the 1,586,272,555 (source) internet users could access/edit your profile information and share it with the rest of the world(s). You have nothing to hide. Really, how many times have you seen the word ‘Privacy Policy’ and in a blink of an eye clicked, ‘I Agree’? Are you aware that those documents show exactly what information (yours or the respective companies’) is vulnerable and/or will be protected when in trouble?

Munch on a by-the-way factoid. The Wall Street Journal recently measured what popular websites do to keep track of you. (The ones spitting customized ads on to you). The Journal found that the nation’s 50 top websites on average installed 64 pieces of tracking technology onto the computers of visitors, usually with no warning. Some installed more than a hundred. Had you taken a technology peek-a-boo, you’d force yourself out of the Internetwork forever. Conclusively, we know ‘individual’ is a big word.

There has been a 100% rise in cyber crimes in Pune alone this year. With most cases of the nature of IT firms’ extortion in exchange of new passwords (this particular one was in Noida), phishing and obscene-post-attacks or fake income tax refund requests by foreign hackers leaving the investigators shooting arrows in a dark alley, here’s a heads up.

A company had to roll back its heat sensor based employee monitoring system intended to check waste of resources and marijuana usage in workplace because IR sensors invaded employee privacy. They could be tracked while using the restrooms as well.

The point is: Why are we not taking our own identity, our own space, our organization’s data and every other piece of information associated with us that is directly or indirectly going either online or is accessible to public by other means, seriously? Constitutionally defined or not, privacy needs rebirth as a right to every human being.