Data Pri­vacy- A Grow­ing Threat In The In­ter­net-Driven World

Data pri­vacy is a phrase that is com­monly heard of in to­day’s day and age with the con­stant de­vel­op­ment of tech­nol­ogy and sciences. Un­for­tu­nately, it is still some­thing that re­mains un­ex­plained to lay­men who use so­cial me­dia and share their in­for­ma­tion on

Dataquest - - CONTENTS - (The au­thor is CISO, SBI Gen­eral In­surance)

There are days when you are scrolling through an e-com­merce web­site for “win­dow shop­ping”, but you leave it mid-way and log off. Af­ter a bit, sur­pris­ingly, it’s all that you see, all over your other so­cial me­dia pages - ads sug­gest­ing ex­actly what you were look­ing at. That is how we know that data is no longer pri­vate. Although it is not against our will be­cause we are the ones who tick the “Agree” box within sec­onds of the ‘Terms & Con­di­tions’ ap­pear­ing on our screens, the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of this could af­fect us in ways be­yond what we can imag­ine.

DE­MYS­TI­FY­ING DATA PRI­VACY

Data pri­vacy is a phrase that is com­monly heard of in

If per­sonal in­for­ma­tion is com­pro­mised by a crim­i­nal and used to im­per­son­ate the vic­tim, a se­ri­ous case of iden­tity theft could oc­cur. A per­son could eas­ily be robbed if his/her bank­ing iden­tity is stolen. An­other sce­nario that oc­curs in such cases is that the un­sus­pect­ing vic­tim may get framed for crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties

to­day’s day and age with the con­stant de­vel­op­ment of tech­nol­ogy and sciences. Un­for­tu­nately, it is still some­thing that re­mains un­ex­plained to lay­men who use so­cial me­dia and share their in­for­ma­tion on var­i­ous plat­forms with­out know­ing what they are agree­ing to. While th­ese de­vel­op­ments have greatly im­proved and el­e­vated our life­style, let us not for­get that there are two sides to a coin. With ev­ery new de­vel­op­ment, there is a new kind of threat to our pri­vacy. Hence, it is im­por­tant to be aware of th­ese threats and un­der­stand them in or­der to di­min­ish them.

Per­sonal In­for­ma­tion refers to any in­for­ma­tion which re­lates to an in­di­vid­ual. In the dig­i­tal econ­omy, each in­dus­try, in­clud­ing govern­ment, bank­ing, in­surance, health­care, me­dia, and ed­u­ca­tion, is heav­ily de­pen­dent on con­sump­tion of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion. The per­sonal in­for­ma­tion may take sev­eral forms. It can be sen­si­tive per­sonal in­for­ma­tion where the loss or leak­age can cause harm or it can ad­versely af­fect the per­son. It can also be health-re­lated or fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion that is other­wise pub­licly not avail­able.

Per­sonal in­for­ma­tion can be mapped to a per­son’s iden­tity in each sphere of life, be it bank­ing ac­cess, health care sup­port, in­surance claims, in­come tax pay­ments, air­line or rail travel, for­eign travel, ed­u­ca­tion qual­i­fi­ca­tions, or em­ploy­ment. More­over, in to­day’s Aad­haar-en­abled econ­omy, each facet of the per­sonal life is recorded some­where. Per­sonal iden­tity and Aad­haar have be­come al­most syn­ony­mous.

If per­sonal in­for­ma­tion is com­pro­mised by a crim­i­nal and used to im­per­son­ate the vic­tim, a se­ri­ous case of iden­tity theft could oc­cur. A per­son could eas­ily be robbed if his/her bank­ing iden­tity is stolen. An­other sce­nario that oc­curs in such cases is that the un­sus­pect­ing vic­tim may get framed for crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties.

The Data Pri­vacy ini­tia­tives in In­dia are driven by Data Se­cu­rity Coun­cil of In­dia (DSCI) a pre­mier in­dus­try body on data pro­tec­tion & se­cu­rity. DSCI has been com­mit­ted to mak­ing cy­berspace safe and trust­wor­thy by es­tab­lish­ing the finest prac­tices, stan­dards, and ini­tia­tives in cy­ber se­cu­rity and pri­vacy.

The In­dian govern­ment is ag­gres­sively driv­ing var­i­ous data pri­vacy & pro­tec­tion mea­sures. The cor­po­rates col­lect­ing per­sonal in­for­ma­tion have been made ac­count­able for data pro­tec­tion through IT Act, Aad­haar Act, and var­i­ous UIDAI cir­cu­lars. Govern­ment is also work­ing on a Data Pro­tec­tion Act, which will soon be­come a re­al­ity in In­dia. This act is be­ing drafted keep­ing per­sonal in­for­ma­tion pro­tec­tion in fo­cus. Such a law is the need of the hour in to­day’s in­ter­net-driven econ­omy.

Thus, data pri­vacy & pro­tec­tion is be­ing tack­led whole­heart­edly by the Cen­tre, state gov­ern­ments, and busi­ness or­ga­ni­za­tions. How­ever, their ef­forts will be fruit­ful only when ev­ery in­di­vid­ual un­der­stands their role in pro­tect­ing data pri­vacy. On the oc­ca­sion of In­ter­na­tional Data Pri­vacy Day cel­e­brated late last month, let’s com­mit our­selves for the pro­tec­tion of our own per­sonal in­for­ma­tion and im­bibe the pri­vacy cul­ture.

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