Not having control over how companies collect and use my data bothers me. If you disagree and feel that it’s just data and there’s not much harm can it do, think again!
We all use various apps, which not only store our details but also use our data and browsing patterns to analyse our behaviour. This is gold for marketing firms.
Chances are, that if you had planned a holiday in April last year, the advertisements you start seeing in March this year are all pushing some holiday package or destination to you. While these ads seem innocuous, they are anything but.
They are the result of the analysis on all the data crumbs you have left while browsing the web. And it’s entirely disheartening to say that you are marked for life. The firms know it is you, wherever you log in from, whatever device you use, and whatever you browse. There is no place to hide online.
Recognising the need to protect your data, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has said that firms collecting user data don’t have a right over it and emphasised that consumers’ consent is a must for obtaining it.
In addition, consumers ought to also be given the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ option. Mostly consent is provided with a simple click on the “I Agree” button – hardly anyone reads through the long-drawn user agreement that is often written in commonly illegible legalese.
According to a report published in Economic Times, “The TRAI, in a set of recommendations to DoT, said that companies should not use meta-data to identify users and should disclose any data breaches.”
Stating that each user owns his/her data and information submitted to any entity, it said entities controlling and processing user data are “mere custodians”, and all of them should be brought “under a data protection framework”.
Speaking on behalf of telecom users, TRAI has said that the consumers must be granted the right to choice, consent and to be forgotten, to safeguard their privacy.
With an inundation of mobile apps and social media platforms, this recommendation by the TRAI comes at a very apt time. India is still catching up while the world has moved light-years ahead in data protection. A cursory look at the General Data Protection Regulation that has been brought in force by the EU shows just how much ground India has to cover in this regard.
According to a report published in the Financial Chronicle, Pavan Duggal, Cyber Security Expert, said, “ The recommendations represent a landmark step forward in empowering consumers recognising their data ownership rights and protecting their privacy.
Duggal added, “The recommendations have broken new ground in recommending the right to be forgotten be incorporated as part of its proposed data protection framework in India.”
“If these recommendations are accepted, they will usher in a new era of respect for netizens’ data related rights as well as their privacy.”
Let’s hope that data is given its due share of importance and the recommendations made are accepted.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)