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Right to Privacy: Is it a myth?  

Introduction:

Unlike ‘Right to Freedom of Expression’ or ‘Right to Religion’, the Constitution does not have an article that provides ‘Right to Privacy’ as a fundamental right. However, Right to Privacy is preserved in Article 21 which says “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.” Right to privacy is a right declared by the Supreme Court to be a part of the personal liberty of Article 21. But is making it a part of the constitutional rights enough to safeguard the privacy of citizens? In the digital world, where companies monitor our every activity and movement across the web, is anything really private? Or is it all just a myth?

Current Scenario:

“It would not be an exaggeration to say that perhaps Google knows more about us than we ever could hope to know about ourselves,” said by an anonymous whistleblower. And it is the fact. Big companies like Google track and record our every online activity in an effort to provide us with an invaluable ‘user experience’. In the process of this feedback and improvement of the services, we are made the consumer and mass messaging is fed to us in an effort to make us want more things more than ever. So saying what you do online is private or even secure would not be correct anymore.

As our addiction to the digital world overtakes our rational thinking, we are gradually reduced into a consumer in wide connection of networks whose identity and beliefs no longer remain to themselves.

In the news:

26 Sep 2018: In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court of India reiterated that the Right to Privacy is a fundamental right of every citizen. The Supreme Court struck down Section 57 of Aadhaar Act permitting private entities to avail Aadhaar data. This has wide implications, given the major social and technological issues being faced by the people in today’s highly connected digital world. Slowly it is being realized the power which companies hold if they possess consumer’s data and how it is to curbed and regulated.

28 Sep 2018: Facebook says at least 50 million users’ data were confirmed at risk after attackers exploited a vulnerability that allowed them access to personal data. The company also preventively secure 40 million additional accounts out of an abundance of caution. The vulnerability was introduced on the site in July 2017, but Facebook didn’t know about it until this month, on September 16, 2018, when it spotted a spike in unusual activity. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, had to sit it in front of the US Senate to explain his company’s actions and how they handle user data.

Yes, right to privacy is not a myth:

  •  Although big data companies are using user data as a means to engage them on a repetitive basis, the user is getting a better-personalized experience.
  • Companies and Applications always ask the user before accessing any private information they require. So it is the lack of awareness on the consumer side that makes him vulnerable to such situations.
  •  Apex bodies such as the Supreme Court of India recognize the right of citizens and work towards safeguarding their rights, making it difficult for the misuse of user data.
  • We still have people like Edward Snowden and Jullian Assange with us who are ready to go out on a foot against apex organizations to defend what is correct.
  • Using Unique Identification number systems for mass surveillance eases the process of distribution of services and products to the required population.

No, right to privacy is a myth:

  • In the end, if nothing that you do is kept just to yourself, your right to privacy is being violated.
  • The question still remains, is the personalized user experience being provided to you for your benefit, or theirs?
  • Lack of proper information being provided to the user base by the organizations makes them more vulnerable to data breach and misuse of data.
  • While some data is okay to be shared with, what promise do these companies hold that they will not be spying on us when we do not want to want to be. Some data must remain private to us, and that is not the scenario now.

Conclusion:

"The term privacy is an empty one because it does not refer to a fundamental human interest or to a specific problem," says LUISS researcher Michele Bocchiola. From gaining 10 minutes of fame, we have gone to 24-hour online presence. With this, is it even possible if not conditional for privacy to exist?

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