How safe is our privacy in this world of social media?
Privacy is an important aspect of human life, thus, in a majority of the democratic countries, central institutions play an important role in safeguarding the privacy of an individual. Institutions require our personal information to access certain services and they do so on the basis of maintaining that a person’s personal information should not be accessible to a third-party. But in recent times, there have been incidents where the personal information of citizens has been given access to third-party clients in exchange of money. Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scam and Aadhaar scam in India have recently caused a stir in the world media as millions of citizens’ personal information were made accessible to the third-party clients, without informing the citizens.
Facebook-Cambridge Analytica breach the privacy
Facebook has become an integral part of everyone’s life ranging from different age-group. It helps people to connect with their family and friends, helps to find news and information. In this age of smartphones, Facebook’s influence in an individual’s life has been increasing, with more than 2 billion active users it has certainly become an integral part of everyone’s day to day life. People share their photos, information, their travel plans on the social media site, while mark their birthdays on Facebook, they do so knowing that it is only visible to the world according to their privacy settings. But the recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scam broke out in the media, it raised pertinent questions on Facebook’s credibility.
The now controversial data analytic firm Cambridge Analytica was accused of cheating to use personal information of Facebook users to manipulate the results of the US Presidential Election. A British news agency brought the story in public, when one of the former employee of the now infamous data firm, made some shocking revelations related to the US Presidential election.
The former employee gave details as to how the data firm procured data by cheating, to gain access to the personal information of Facebook users and use the information to influence the voters during the US Presidential Elections in 2016. Ovleno Business Intelligence the defunct firm used to work with Cambridge Analytica in India, and according to their official website JD(U), Bhartiya Janta Party, and Indian National Congress were clients of the data analaytic firm.
The national parties were quick to blame each other, as allegations regarding the connections of BJP and Congress party with the OBI, but both the parties have been quick to dismiss all the allegations hurled at each other.
Aadhaar information for money?
Back in 2009, when Aadhaar was launched, there were question raised whether the government and its agencies are capable of looking after and securing the database of almost 1.2 billion citizens of India. The database included the biometrics of the card holders, as well as personal information such as residential address, name, age, father’s name, etc. But with improving technology in the country doubts were certainly laid to rest, and when Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it mandatory for every citizen to have Aadhaar, it was believed that the government is certainly capable enough to secure the database of more than 1.2 billion people.
Aadhaar became an essential identity card, as government started asking the citizens to link their Aadhaar cards with various government services and schemes to ensure better delivery and to avail the benefits of government schemes. In January this year, one of the journalist exposed a massive loophole, as she claimed that the details and information of Aadhaar card holders was available in the market for a meager sum of 500 Rupees, the whole incident put the central government into the spotlight. The apex court of India had to intervene, as privacy of the citizens was in question, recently the court asked Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to present a presentation and address the court on the issue of safety and security of data procured by UIDAI.
What role does an individual have?
Even though the world around us is changing rapidly with the help of growing technology, questions still exist whether technology is safe enough to maintain the privacy of the data. The recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data mining and Aadhar information for cash scam certainly highlighted the chinks in the armory of technology.
There are certain loopholes that still concern many big data analysts, as they still need to ensure that the database and privacy of the information of a user is not misused and that too without his or her consent. Individuals also need to take effective steps to ensure that they are not giving out too much of personal information on social media sites and websites, and go through the privacy agreement of all the mobile apps thoroughly, to ensure that their information is not being used by any third-party agency.