Data Privacy Day: Know the risks of using CHEAP phones, says IIT professor

Data Privacy Day: If you care about your privacy, hear out from an expert about what you and the government should keep in mind.

| Updated on: Jan 28 2022, 10:06 IST
Using smartphone
Data Privacy Day: Governing your privacy on an individual level is crucial in today's day and age. (Representative Image) ((AP Photo/Altaf Qadri))
Using smartphone
Data Privacy Day: Governing your privacy on an individual level is crucial in today's day and age. (Representative Image) ((AP Photo/Altaf Qadri))

Data Privacy Data: As technology embeds deeper and deeper in our lives, the privacy factor has become ever so important. Unlike most other countries where data privacy laws are strict, India's take on it is rather loose and hence, it often comes to an individual to ensure data privacy on a personal level. With a vast amount of vagueness surrounding us with regards to data protection and privacy, it comes down to personal awareness about the issue and take matters into your own hands.

We wanted to take a perspective on this and hence, reached out to Prof. Sandeep Shukla from IIT Kanpur. Professor Shukla throws light on some aspects of data privacy that may ask you to reconsider most of your digital lifestyles. Hence, if you care about privacy a lot, this is a must read for you.

Data Privacy measures: What to keep in mind

Data Privacy measures
Data Privacy measures  (Pixabay)
Data Privacy measures  (Pixabay)

1. Awareness

Awareness is crucial in an age where everything is available so easily. Prof. Shukla says, “First is awareness -- regular consumer thinks -- what is wrong if people know my location, my movement, my habits, likings dislikes etc.” Hence, you need to ask questions as to why some app or service needs to learn your location or what you like.

“They must be aware that this can be used to do psy-ops against the country to incite violence, riots, prejudices and many other things -- and most importantly subvert democracy (recall the Cambridge Analytica incident),” adds Shukla.

While people need to be aware on an individual level, it is also up to the authorities to spread more awareness on the matter. “Awareness education, advertisement on print and electronic media to increase awareness on the importance of privacy and how to protect privacy is important. People should be made aware of Phishing and other social engineering methods used to breach privacy and security,” says Shukla.

2. Cheap tech and its relation to privacy

Another area that we take for granted. These days, affordable smartphones are getting feature-rich and offer top-of-the-line exciting specifications. However, they also pose a threat to privacy. Most of these cheap phones end up with pre-installed apps and services that learn what you do and show ads on that basis. Despite certain brands being aware, a lot of them continue to do this.

The same stands for dodgy apps that keep on asking permissions for every aspect of your phone's data. “People should understand the risk of using cheap mobile phones and apps that have privacy issues,” says Shukla. It is better to spend more on a device that makes its data privacy guidelines clear and ensures it upkeeps them over the time. 

3. Government intervention

Another way that could strengthen the data privacy measures in India. Currently, it is Google and Apple who take it upon themselves to certify whether an app is fit for your phone and should be installed. However, hosting apps is business for them and there's no transparency in how they filter these apps.

This is where the government can step in. “Government should develop apps for mobile that can rate the privacy of each app downloaded and warn the user against using apps that breach privacy,” says Shukla. This could force app developers to follow strict data privacy standards and ensure a more secure environment.

What can you do NOW on a personal level

There are a few measures that Professor Shukla believes we can follow as individuals to limit the propagation of our data. “People should be enabled to use encryption-based products. All kinds of information they share should be converted to verifiable credentials so that privacy breach surface is reduced drastically,” he says.

Even when there's no tech involved, one should refrain form sharing credentials with third parties. “People should not give printouts and copies of ID cards, Aadhaar cards and stuff like that and just prove their identity with verifiable credential form of identity, something which the government needs to enable,” he adds.

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First Published Date: 28 Jan, 10:06 IST