Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Monday, October 15, 2018 08:10:36 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Connectivity is crucial, but how do we protect privacy?

By
01st-Dec-2017       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Urvashi Aneja :
The vulnerability of information and technology infrastructures is becoming more visible and alarming by the day. Earlier this year, two separate malware outbreaks - WannaCry and Petya - affected hundreds of thousands of people and organisations around the world. WannaCry crippled over 230,000 computers across 150 countries, with the UK's National Health Service, Spain's phone giant Telefónica and Germany's state railways among those hardest hit. Thousands of machines running on Windows, including ATMs, ticketing machines, hospitals and numerous industrial control systems across the globe were also compromised. Petya also affected operations at India's largest container port JNPT, in Mumbai; data put out by Symantec suggests that India was the worst affected country in Asia.
Researchers initially blamed the shutdown on ransom-ware - which seeks to make money by holding data hostage unless the victim pays a hefty ransom fee. But soon after, a bleaker conclusion emerged - that the malware was a 'wiper' with the objective of permanently destroying data. The aim, in other words, was to create chaos. Earlier this year, data of 17 million Zomato users was stolen in India and supposedly re-sold on the Dark Web. An IBM-Ponemon Institute 2017 study notes that the average cost of data breach in India has grown from Rs 97.30 million in 2016 to Rs 110 million in 2017. And, as a report by the Centre for Internet and Society, New Delhi, notes, the Aadhaar numbers of over 130 million people and bank account details of about 100 million have been leaked through government portals in India because of poor security practices.
At the same time, human dependency on these very systems is increasing. At an individual level, Fitbit and other such devices tell users if they are walking enough, eating too much or sleeping soundly. Many people would be lost without Google Maps, even in cities they call home. As technology becomes more invisible and omnipresent, and interactions more seamless - think Alexa or Siri - the dependency will only increase. At a social level, people already increasingly rely on social media platforms to make friends, find jobs, decide where to go on holiday and even make electoral choices. For many, social media is the primary portal to the internet. With the Internet of Things, 26 billion devices will be connected around the globe - smart appliances will communicate with each other and preemptively respond to user preferences, and public utilities will be integrated and made responsive to population movement and consumption patterns. The dependency is so great that some studies have noted the rise of 'digital amnesia' - people are beginning to use their computer devices as extensions of their brains and in the process, are ready to forget important information in the belief that it can be immediately retrieved from a digital device. Such dependency amid such vulnerability seems unwise.
Indeed, data is the new oil. A staggering 90 per cent of the world's data has been created in the past four years. When the dot-com bubble burst in the late 1990s-early 2000s, Silicon Valley desperately needed a new business model. Then, in 2001, the World Trade Centre was attacked in New York, convincing the US government that its traditional methods of intelligence gathering were no longer working.
Growing amounts of data and technological advances have now ushered in an era of 'Big Data', allowing advertisers to not only provide curated product suggestions, but also predict present and future preferences and capacities.
As people create their digital selves - making profiles, listing habits and preferences, choosing to 'like' and 'retweet' certain items - they allow business to extract value from their preferences, personality, lifestyle, relationships and ambitions. Social media presence has itself been commoditised by companies that measure influence on social networks and give chosen users 'perks', or free products from various brands, ostensibly piggybacking on the users' 'reach'. Facebook is unsurprisingly a prime staging ground and profiteer in the surveillance economy.
Technology companies also adjust pricing and product promotions on the basis of past buying history and known traits - Amazon, for example, differentially prices goods depending on pin code and expected income level. Last September, Google received a patent on technology that lets a company dynamically price electronic content. For instance, it can push the base price of an e-book up if it determines that a shopper is more likely to buy that particular item than an average user; conversely, it can adjust the price down as an incentive if the user is judged less likely to purchase.
The top five data storage facilities are in the US; and more than half of the world's rentable cloud storage is controlled by four major corporations - Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Google, each of which adopts a similar global pattern of server farms. India is thus one of the largest exporters of data worldwide, and with rural India being ushered into the digital economy via social media platforms, on shared devices and often without knowledge of, or access to, privacy software, this trend is poised to continue.
So, as TV news channels report on the 'most-watched videos online' and hashtags are the new symbols of protests across the world, the online and offline worlds are getting increasingly enmeshed. Governments are furthering this enmeshment as they digitise governance services and make "citizenry" conditional on digital enrolment. But this system is deeply fragile and vulnerable to external shock and disruption, and this is without even bringing in the geopolitics of cyber security. And the real rot lies within - people are dependent on a system in which they are themselves the labour, in which their subjectivities and relationships are being commoditised and sold back to them.
Where is this headed? Probably a tiered internet, where the rich can afford secure internet, accessed through VPN networks and patched with the latest browser extensions to keep hackers, trackers and advertisers at bay. This is already happening of course, with most major newspapers now offering either a monthly subscription option or a free service with advertisements; the paid-for content is typically of much better quality as well. The rich will also insulate themselves from day-to-day digital dependencies; many in Silicon Valley send their children to tech-free schools and digital detox programmes are booming.
The masses, on the other hand, will be unable to afford their freedom or privacy and will continue to perform digital labour - accessing the internet through insecure free servers. Without the knowledge or financial means to safeguard their data, they will mine their own preferences, so that products can be continued to be sold back to them.
Headed down this road, the internet will soon become the staging ground for a new kind of class war. Unless, of course, societies choose the more sensible route of recasting the internet as a critical public utility, revisiting government initiatives that parcel citizenship and economic participation into a digital bundle, implementing stringent data protection laws, investing in robust security infrastructure as a prerequisite not an afterthought and finally, on a broader level, recognising technological trajectories as social choices that should not be left to market forces alone, even if in the name of innovation. -The Wire

(Urvashi Aneja is director of Tandem Research, research fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, and associate professor at the Jindal School of International Affairs).

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Take seriously the promise made to the editors


The Editors' Council will form a human chain in front of the National Press Club today (Monday) to press for amendments to nine sections of the Digital Security Act. Earlier, the Council postponed the same program following an assurance from three ministers including the information minister Hasanul Haq Inu that ...

Sports »

Marcelo Melo of Brazil (left) and his partner Lukasz Kubot of Poland bite their winning trophy as they pose for photographers after beating Jamie Murray of Britain and Bruno Shares of Brazil in the men's doubles final match of the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament at Qizhong Forest Sports City Tennis Center in Shanghai, China on Sunday.


International »

Trump explains `eligibility` for those who want to come to US


PTI, Washington :US President Donald Trump has said that he wants people with merit, who can help, to enter the country and not sneak inside the border illegally."I'm very tough at the borders. We've been very tough at the borders. People have to come into our country legally, not illegally. ...

International »

US wants ‘regime change’ in Iran: Rouhani


Reuters, Tehran :The United States is seeking "regime change" in Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday, adding that the current US administration is the most hostile that the Islamic Republic has faced in its four decades.Tensions have increased between Iran and America after US President Donald Trump withdrew from ...

City »

Former adviser to the caretaker government Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman addressing a press conference on the occasion of 4th International Health Conference of People's Health organised by People's Health Movement- Bangladesh at VIP Lounge , Jatiya Press Club yesterday.


Entertainment »

Nadia in new telefilm


Entertainment Report :After returning country popular TV actress and model Nadia Ahmed has acted in a new telefilm titled Debor, which is based on a life-oriented story. Written by Barrister Mostaq Ahmed, the telefilm is directed by Sanjay Barua. The shooting of the telefilm has already been done in the ...

Editorial »

Mysterious disappearance of Saudi journalist Khashoggi


MYSTERY shrouds the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi when Turkish authorities didn't revoke their claim that he was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul amid strong denials by the Saudi government. The Turkish newspaper "Sabah" yesterday reported that Khashoggi may have recorded his own death by his Apple Watch. ...

Sports »

Danielle Kang of the United States reacts on the 18th hole after finishing the third round of the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship at Sky72 Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea on Saturday.


.

City »

General students holds a rally making token execution platform in front of the Jatiya Press Club on Saturday demanding 35 years as minimum age-limit for the government service.


.

Entertainment »

Shakib`s new film `Ektu Prem Dorkar`


Showtime Desk :Shakib Khan's upcoming film has been finally named "Ektu Prem Dorkar," after changing the title twice.The film, directed by Shahin Sumon and produced by Shapla Media, was originally titled "Ektu Prem Dorkar Manoniyo Sarkar." The name was then changed to "Culprit." However, on Monday the director informed that ...

Entertainment »

Sarah Paulson to star in Lionsgate`s Run


Natalie Qasabian and Sev Ohanian are handling the production of the film, which is being directed by Aneesh Chaganty.  It is the next project from the creative team behind Searching, reports Variety. The Ocean’s 8 actor will be seen portraying the role of a mother of a teenage girl, who ...

Editorial »

E. coli bacteria found in 41pc water sources : Govt must provide urgent action to upgrade quality


FORTYone percent of all improved water sources in Bangladesh are contaminated with Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria, which suggests a high prevalence of fecal contamination. The nation can reduce poverty and boost growth by taking immediate measures to upgrade the quality of water and sanitation, a World Bank report said.The ...

Sports »

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry shoots around Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Las Vegas on Wednesday.


Football »

Mbappe is Time magazine's 'Future of Soccer'


AFP, Paris :Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe's rapid rise to global fame has earned the teenaged World Cup winner an appearance on the cover of Time magazine's international edition, to appear on Friday.Time said Mbappe is a global superstar who is the "Future of Soccer."Mbappe made headlines in September 2017 ...

International »

Riyadh faces `serious consequences` if Khashoggi murder claims true: UK


A FP,  London  :Britain's foreign secretary on Thursday warned that Saudi Arabia faces "serious consequences" if the suspicions of Turkish officials that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul turn out to be true."People who have long thought of themselves as Saudi's friends are saying ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news