Digitally Entangled

We are in a time where the theft of one’s smartphone is as catastrophic if not more, than the theft of the wallet. Credit Cards and other payment mechanisms have been strengthened and policies and systems brought into place to ensure that if they are lost/stolen, the onus of repayment and punishment falls upon the financial institutions, not the individual.

But a smartphone now is much more than just financial details. Its the single point of contact for most of us. It houses important emails, access to cloud storage and other personal data including pictures and videos. Sometimes even the theft of a smartphone is not necessary to access one’s personal data. To make it worse,access to one person’s smartphone gives people access to data on other people as well, thus giving them the opportunity to affect more lives.

Identity theft is still not a major problem in India. Thats partly because of the multitude of forms and paperwork required for creating an identity and more importantly, the fact that finding out personal information about people was not easy, what with limited access to records and lack of a central system. But with the Aadhaar card and other systems in place, we are fast approaching a time when all data about people will be centralized and accessible online, thus making us easily cloneable online and offline.

Online security and specifically identity data security is something thats not taken in India seriously. We provide xerox copies of important documents without ensuring if they are being used for the correct reasons and if the data is being stored correctly. More data is mined from websites and social networks where people freely share information. Finally the Government and other institutions publish data openly or keep data in poorly managed systems. Its important that we as citizens force the government to take data security and privacy seriously. This is to prevent any misuse/abuse of the information and to prevent anything in the future as well.

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