Privacy and the right to be forgotten: Are we really ready?

The World Wide Web is gearing up for “the right to be forgotten”, it is nearly impossible to erase the entire digital foot print. Despite all the ‘forget’ mechanisms, backups and cloud duplication would have happened in the dark web.

Mani Kant Singh R Apr 05th 2018

You will not be surprised to notice people peeping into your mobile while you are typing a long message via WhatsApp or SMS.  When you looked at them they would just show as if they didn’t notice your message.  Many would have come across a situation of shoulder surfing in office, invading into your official emails and Instant Messaging. Large population moving rapidly into this mobility space, we need to really re-think ‘are we ready for this BUZZ word around the corner called privacy?’

Inclusion of legality

Today in many developed countries, privacy is being discussed so much, and many standards are being formulated for specific purposes. For example, the hospital industry is rife with concerns of patient privacy.  In fact, it is being practiced in law as “right to privacy”.

I was very keen to know how far our Indians are impacted by privacy.  Keeping the low computer / internet penetration across India still we are far behind the privacy gate.  Social media are prompting us to post as much personal information as possible, on the web. We also get immense happiness with the “likes”, “comments” and “endorsements”. We have ignored that these were our private information that has become so much publicly available.  

Discovery of differentiator – PII

Personally, even if I am asked about my private information in cloud, I would be surely puzzled and will not be able to differentiate public information from private information and private consumption information.

The general precept of privacy is that no one should be able to observe / stalk / follow a person without that person’s knowledge. This is highly neglected in social community. Our birthday is more of a private information (this is being used to validate our card transactions) but is it not available in our social media?  Many websites have this age-check for young adults.  Does this mean to say that privacy laws should handle the social media loopholes. It is very difficult to chalk out a privacy law with huge open points.

Too prone to addiction, hostile to understanding

We cannot seclude ourselves from social media though. We are left with very little space to handle this PRIVACY BUZZ, but certainly we can protect ourselves. Often people are unable to distinguish between privacy and security. While entering a password is related to security, entering UID/date of birth which can identify an individual is related to privacy.  The world wide web has started gearing up for “the right to be forgotten”.  However, it is nearly impossible to erase the entire digital foot print. While the ‘forget’ algorithm may work, backups and cloud duplication would have happened in the dark web.

Cascading effect of privacy – internet & social

Even a badly-timed joke, wrong post on social media can ruin our lives.   These post gets forwarded, again and again forwarded with no authentic check and unforeseen direction for many years damaging the ecological carbon foot print.  Any post on the web need not have any malicious intent but the same can be dragged to wrong consequences.  One needs to exercise a rationale between Social View and Viral. Convenience comes first, privacy turns second in the web.

We feel comfortable sharing our DOB / Addresses to our contacts and friends believing that they already know our information.  Any attempt to compromise of this data leads to extended challenges.  The unfortunate part is that these information moves faster than light and sound across the globe.

Recent incidents of people sharing their location via public posts have invited many unpleasant incidents like burglary and homicide cases.   Hackers are round the clock looking for victims in the internet, any transaction with a loophole leaves a broadcast of private data leakage.
Privacy and social bumps businesses   

In addition to internet and email, organizations are now impelled to allow social network inside the office network to improve employee engagement, morale, and performance—one of the primary reasons of competition allowing the same in controlled environment without proper risk assessment.  Even Human Talent officers are now finding it difficult to handle the breaches happening via the social in the context of organizational privacy.

Safety gear

Now, how to safeguard yourself?  By confining ourselves? Is that the only alternative!  Not necessarily. These few steps would help, though they will not fully protect us from the privacy impact.

1.    Keep your passwords secret, and change them frequently
2.    Be selective to post and accept requests
3.    Share your private information only with family and friends
4.    Practise caution on every link you click
5.    Avoid sharing your contact details
6.    Turn off GPS and auto login
7.    Avoid posting your travel plans on the online community
8.    Avoid opening any short URL without proper verification
9.    Keep off apps which are not downloaded from secure platforms
10.     Be vigilant of attachments in emails and online resources

While the above can safeguard us to a certain level, still there is a greater scope to understand the velocity of internet privacy abuse. The losses can be huge which can claim even human lives.  

With plenty of information, networking, video streaming, family re-union, lost & found, and focused marketing happening in the social media space, it leads us to ‘high risk of not being social’, much bigger than being in the social media.    
It’s not a crime to be social and share information; but protecting the private information regarding oneself is of prime importance.  Let’s not Lose PII (private identifiable information) to any unknown PI (public individual)

The author is CISO, ORBIS Financial Corporation, Gurgaon

Disclaimer: This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the contributing authors and not of IDG Media and its editor(s).