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Nanjunda Prasad Ramesh

CEO, Multi-Verse Technologies

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What Are You Signing Up For Once You Tick T&C* While Downloading A Social Media App

Behavioural advertising is the practice of tailoring advertisements to an individual’s personal interests and this is appealing to marketers because targeted advertisements are more likely to result in a purchase compared to non-targeted advertisements.

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What Are You Signing Up For Once You Tick T&C* While Downloading A Social Media App
What Are You Signing Up For Once You Tick T&C* While Downloading A Social Media App

Since the introduction of social media sites, online social media platforms have grown rapidly. With massive amounts of personal data now available online and stored in the cloud, online privacy has become a key topic of discussion. Online privacy is very important for varied reasons. No one likes to share their personal details with strangers and it is difficult to ensure what personal data is gathered and also by whom.

What are the risks involved?

We often underestimate the importance of online privacy. We are unaware of how much information we are giving away as soon as we download an app. We also skip the privacy policy when joining a social media app and tick YES for all the Terms & Conditions. The entire Terms & Conditions is made so complex that it is difficult for a user to go through it fully and understand. To top it all it is filled with jargons. The Terms & Conditions tells us that the company will be collecting a lot of user data (Personal Information) to modify or enhance the application/product. But somewhere down they also may mention that the data will be shared with third-party agencies. All of this data is given away to third-party aggregators, who then act as brokers and it is sold as marketing data. And we unknowingly or knowingly give consent for all of this to happen.

Other than your email id and phone number, the kinds of information that you may be sharing on a social media app includes your profile, your status, your location, shared content and many more. All of these reveal information about you, including contextual information that you may not even be aware of. By sharing your personal information online you are providing enough information to allow advertisers or hackers to take advantage of your online identity.

Many social media apps make profit by selling user data to the advertisers. Behavioural advertising is the practice of tailoring advertisements to an individual’s personal interests and this is appealing to marketers because targeted advertisements are more likely to result in a purchase compared to non-targeted advertisements.

How to tackle this?

Users should not take online privacy lightly. Many people are okay with accepting all the Terms & Conditions thinking nothing will happen to them. This is where users lose. Users should always review a privacy policy before signing up. When reviewing a privacy policy, always remember, privacy policies can change, sometimes dramatically, after a user creates an account. The terms of service may have information just as important as the privacy policy, so always review the same as well.

The privacy policy only covers the social media app. It does not cover third-party applications or aggregators that interact with the app. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the data/information that you are providing and to be very conscious of the choices you can make to protect your own privacy.

If apps take a stand and make a clear statement that ‘This data collected will not be shared with anybody’, then people can trust them. Whatever the user should know before ticking the Terms & Conditions box, that information should be put on top clearly without any ambiguity in language.

Users should not sign up for anything that doesn’t clearly state what they are doing with their data. Because once signed up, users will not be able to find out how their personal information is getting misused. The app can change its own privacy policy at any time without user’s permission, and content that was posted with restrictive privacy settings may become visible when a privacy policy is altered. This is a violation of data privacy. Hence, everyone should demand for their Right to Privacy and spread awareness about it. Users should be aware that they should not just like that accept all the Terms & Conditions if it looks suspicious.

The need for Right to Privacy as a Fundamental Right

One should value data privacy online in the same way as the real world. Nobody likes to share details of their personal life with strangers and it is difficult to ensure what personal information is gathered, for what purpose and by whom. In the EU, concerns like these are addressed with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). This set of laws, passed in 2016 and implemented in 2018, protect the privacy and data of every EU citizen. We also need such regulatory bodies in India to protect our online privacy.

The Indian constitution does not guarantee Right to Privacy, and without privacy, internet users modify their private behaviour out of fear. It removes personal autonomy. It is important to have a comprehensive law that protects the privacy of internet users and this requires further work. As Indian citizens, we should demand that Right to Privacy be the 7th Fundamental Right at the earliest.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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social media app fundamental right right to privacy

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