With the Supreme Court of India’s declaration in August this year, on privacy being a fundamental right, several questions have emerged on what precisely constitutes privacy. As India embraces digitization in the form of programmes such as Digital India, storage of financial data on digital platforms increasingly becomes a reality.
However, the ugly side of digitization also includes cyber warfare and hacking among others. Additionally, the youth increasingly hooked to the internet also is at risk of getting victimized to online bullying and sadism, the biggest manifestation of which is the Blue Whale challenge.
The most recent prey of this obnoxious game was a student from Assam. Keeping these questions in mind, the Department of Mass Communication of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences organised a “SwagChat” on the theme of Right to Privacy in the Digital Age on August 31, 2017.
The SwagChat is a fortnightly discussion on issues of current importance that surrounds the youth. The previous SwagChat was held on the Goods and Services Tax (GST), as it was felt that a greater discussion on the GST will empower the youth with a better understanding.
The latest SwagChat spearheaded by the third semester students of Masters in Mass Communication had two speakers- Dr. Sriparna Pathak, Assistant Professor of Mass Communication in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Mr. Sunday Cyril Akinyele, a third semester student of Masters in Mass Communication from the University.
The proceedings were conducted by Mr. Kasturi Suneth, also a student of the same batch. The SwagChat also saw the presence and exchange of views by Dr. Basil Koikara, the Registrar of the University and Dr. Riju Sharma, the Director of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. The Swag Chat was held in the atrium of the University’s campus at Tapesia, and was an hour long event that lasted from 15.30 hours to 16.30 hours.
Dr. Pathak raised questions about the safety and security of financial data online, and the need for greater precaution while conducting online transactions, while Mr. Cyril spoke about the need for internet freedoms and the lack of surveillance in any form. Some other questions raised included the viability of the usage of virtual proxy networks (VPN) to safeguard one’s IP addresses from getting disclosed, the line between what is private and what is public, the ways in which artificial intelligence functions among others.
Dr. Koikara spoke about the ways in which modern lives get tracked, and the perfect example being Google Maps which even knows our travel details. In conclusion, the need to spread greater awareness, especially among the youth about the perils of the Digital Age was emphasized, so that online bullying, harassment, theft of private details and brainwashing could be reduced in the society.
The next SwagChat is scheduled for September 14, 2017.
By Dr. Sriparna Pathak
The author is an Assistant Professor at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Assam Don Bosco University, Tapesia Campus.