Invasion of privacy in Nepal: How much fear? How much real?

Photo: Flickr

Most of you in Nepal are unaware of the data trail you leave behind. This includes GPS data, phone records, credit card transactions, and a variety of other vital information. These data trails will be gathered by service providers such as browsing websites, instant messaging services, and video sites. These personal data are collected, kept, transferred, or sold to other parties without the user’s permission.

Internet privacy refers to the right to keep private sensitive data and information generated as a result of utilising the internet. Various employees who have worked in software creation, web firms, and big corporative mega corporations have regarded privacy as a critical problem. People have a negative perception of online privacy. This has two sides to it; one side is exceedingly concerned and protective of their data, while the other is unconcerned even if they are hacked.

Both viewpoints are valid, yet they are also incorrect. It applies the same to Nepal also, where the use of the internet is significantly increasing every moment.

Why are people afraid?

Photo: Pixabay

Social media have the power to manipulate, influence, persuade and pressurise society, as well as control the world in both positive and negative ways at times. People watch a lot of dystopian-themed media. It may be found in literature, television shows, and movies. These show people’s interest in society and what happens when one entity has too much power.

It is really simple to transition from cautious to paranoid. It would be more accurate to describe individuals as ignorant. The majority of society is uninformed since there is no suitable culture for comprehending and learning about technology. There are tools that can be used, but there is no learning system. As a result, people regard any data collecting from software as an invasion of privacy that may lead to something really dangerous.

People should not be afraid of corporations tracking them, and corporations should be allowed to gather and sell your information. However, there should be greater government control on how to do so in order to keep people secure and to guarantee that sensitive information is not leaked and is handled with care. People should be taught not to be overly concerned about their data being monitored but also about what data you should be concerned about.

Do all mobile applications collect data?

Too many applications gather people’s data. These apps both gather and store data. Many applications monitor people’s behavior, location, and so on. However, Facebook bears the brunt of it since they gather a lot of data.

But, how much of that data is harmful, and how much is intrusive of privacy to the point where you should be concerned? A lot of stuff that is being collected on the apps you use include but are not limited to:

  1. Personal Information like name, address, phone number, email address
  2. Location
  3. Search history
  4. Your IP address
  5. What button you pressed
  6. What you bought
  7. What ads you have clicked on
  8. Bank account details
  9. Hobbies and interests
  10. Employment history

Facebook is not the only corporation that gathers this information, but it is the most frequent offender, followed by Instagram, Tinder, Grindr, and Uber. The majority of the items listed above are things that people are comfortable with being tracked. The major question that one should think about this type of information being tracked are:

  1. Can I be hacked with this?
  2. If this information gets leaked, how comfortable would I be with it?
  3. When my data is sold to other people, how much of a danger does that pose to me?

According to the evidence provided above, the answer to the first question is no. Because many people are unaware of how the software works and generally have some sci-fi representation of it. But, a lot of stuff is a no, and no one will be hacked. A lot, but not all, and you should be concerned about our own security. So, which of the numbers 1-10, if released, may lead to one being hacked? They may be any of them.

There is a popular security technique in software businesses that is no longer recommended. People can give any response to the security question. What was your first dog’s name? If you put your first dog’s name there, you are vulnerable to hacking since you may have shared that information on social media and now some corporation has that information.

Caution vs. fear

Representational image

It is critical for individuals to be cautious since firms profit from the software you use. Data has replaced oil or gold mines in your generation. So, instead of ostracising it as if there is some terrible bogeyman lurking in the shadows, it should be used to the fullest extent feasible in a safe manner. Most of the data being monitored is actually relatively safe, and for the more sensitive data, it should be controlled rather than stopped. There are several methods for regulating data and keeping businesses honest. All of the data that is collected also contributes to the enhancement of the experience.

It is possible that you have all had it happen to you. Google collects information about you, and when you visit YouTube, it will select videos that you will enjoy. Facebook displays advertisements for items in which you have expressed an interest. None of this is very bad, and people would prefer to see advertisements for things they truly want rather than something they might be moderately interested in.

What should be done?

The use of the internet is expanding on a daily basis. Mobile broadband subscriptions in Nepal has increased to 60.34 per cent of the population by mid-January 2021, up from 55.30 per cent last year. At this point, all it takes is news about the collecting of individual information by tech giants to send people into a frenzy.

This panic is justified by fear of potential harm to individuals. It might be used for malicious purposes. More transparency about how your data is utilised is required. Instead of the current scenario where people block tracking and believe they have obtained privacy, the government should develop laws surrounding how it is to be used and legislation to guarantee that your data is not being exploited.

There are still many misunderstandings that cause people to be afraid, but at the end of the day, everyone has the right to privacy and should be allowed to determine what information can and cannot be gathered and utilised.

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Belbase is a Kathmandu University School of Management student.

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