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Cyber Privacy – A growing challenge
Sunday November 24, 2013 11:10 PM, Rehan Umar Khan,

The global use of internet for electronic communication and e-commerce over the past few years has become a common phenomenon of modern life. No doubt it facilitated our life a lot, but on the other hand it has created a grave concern for governments in India and other countries, as it is posing a threat to personal privacy in an online environment.

These concerns have created an alarming situation to Indian government, media, private entities and policy-makers. Waking up to this challenge now we can see that some efforts are being made by our government to develop some policies and strategies to protect the privacy of electronic transactions and personal information in cyberspace.

The use of new and advanced technologies has increased the fear of privacy intrusion as the new types of PII (Personal Identifiable Information) are now available while it was quite difficult to get them earlier. Biometrics such as, DNA, finger prints, iris-scanning are becoming popular as a method to secure identification. These biometric devices are being used to prevent fraud and forgery in various organizations. But they have also raised some concerns about the storage and access of these digital data.

The Internet has affected a lot upon the privacy rights of a person both in their identities and personal data. The use of smart phones or internet enabled phones is the biggest challenge now days as it intrudes upon the privacy rights of a person.

Each computer, mobile phone or other device attached to the internet has a unique IP address, which provides a unique identifier for every device and which in turn the can be traced.

The amendments in the ITA Act 2008 and recently produced bill namely "The Privacy Protection Bill 2013" in the Parliament are the signs that the Indian government is waking up towards this problem and trying to combat it.

Earlier there were a very few provisions in Indian law to intercept, block and monitor internet communications or to regulate the flow of personal information.

The Privacy Protection Bill 2013 deals with all the major concerns like the protection of personal data, interception of communication, surveillance etc. about which we mostly confront within daily life.

Certainly this Bill will help to meliorate the trust of people in e-commerce. Because this implies the rule that no person shall collect any personal data of another person without obtaining the prior consent of the person to whom it pertains and such consent may be obtained in any manner, and through any medium, but shall not be obtained as a result of a threat, duress or coercion.

But, apart from all the steps taken by the government to maintain privacy in cyberspace it is also our responsibility to decide up to what extent do we need to share our personal information over the internet. In India people share their personal information over the social networking sites, matrimonial sites and on several other places regardless of the fact that this information can be misused easily.

It is important to understand the criticalness of the fact that even if we share anything on an Indian website it can be accessed globally thus making our information available across the globe. This is due to the nature of the internet so we too have to limit ourselves in sharing personal information despite of making so many polices and passing bills for regulating personal information in cyberspace.

(Rehan Umar Khan is a student of MSCLIS, NLIU, Bhopal)

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