“In the online world, free means paying with your data”

Mishi Choudhary, technology lawyer and managing partner, Mishi Choudhary & Associates, talks about the risks data breach poses to India

pratap

Pratap Vikram Singh | May 8, 2018


#Facebook   #Data Privacy   #Internet   #Data  


The illegal sharing and usage of 87 million Facebook users data have put the spotlight on the risks data breach poses to individuals and democracies around the world. Cambridge Analytica, the political consultancy firm which illegally harvested data using the app ‘thisisyourdigitallife’, worked with the Donald Trump election team to make software to predict and influence voters in the 2016 presidential elections. The UK-based firm is also alleged to have influenced the Brexit referendum. Early in April, India’s ministry of electronic and IT had issued notice to Cambridge Analytica and Facebook seeking details of Indian users whose data was shared illegally. Facebook said that 335 people installed the app in India that lead to disclosure of 5.6 lakh users data. The ministry is still contemplating if it would initiate action against the two firms.

As the government prepares to bring in legislation on data protection, Governance Now speaks to Mishi Choudhary on the risks data breach poses to India and ways to curtail it.

What does the Facebook data breach means for India?
There is no comprehensive legislation that requires companies to report on data breach or to provide information to users and compensate for their losses. The news of data breaches is becoming commonplace but we don’t see any action against parties who have failed to protect that data. The problem is as big as the size of data collected for India’s large user base.

What kind of risks it poses to people and society? 
From exploitation in recruitment, differential pricing for goods and services to influencing political choices, anything that can be impacted by data will be impacted by such breaches.

While the government promises to take stringent action against data breaches, it is often seen in a denial mode when a breach, especially related to Aadhaar, is reported in media. Your comments? 
Where there is data, there is a high possibility of breach. We can only build secure systems by acknowledging their vulnerabilities and preparing for breaches. Transparency in reporting on data breaches is paramount and the first step towards building secure, robust systems. The government should invite experts to solve problems, point out weaknesses in the system. We are all on the same side of building a secure digital India. 

What are your expectations from the proposed data protection law?
The objectives of data protection legislation must be described in terms of people, not data. It should also not be about consent, but control. What we call ‘data protection’ law must be our guarantee of digital safety against mass accidents and destruction of individual and social welfare. The law we need is not about getting, managing or automating consent. The objective is not consent, but control. People should be able to control access to information about them.

The purpose of data legislation is not to ‘unleash innovation’ or to subsidise startups with favourable legal rules.

Fines for data breaches should be heavy and calculated as a percentage of global revenue. Time limit for disposal of any complaint should not be more than a year and consent should not be a sufficient basis for determining the responsibilities to protect data about people.

How can data sharing without user consent be checked? How can we stop recurrence of breaches similar to the one related to Facebook, ‘thisisyourdigitallife’ app?
Stop using the apps that don’t clearly inform you of how they use your data. Demand easy to read and understand terms and conditions. Use privacy protecting products like DuckDuckGo and FreedomBox. Learn to pay for online services and not expect free; as free only means paying with your data.

Is data localisation the answer?
No matter where the data is stored, all companies should be subjected to the same regulations. Currently, we have no comprehensive data protection so how will localising data solve anything?

How can users have a control over their data?
It is not easy unless the platforms make data usage and sharing transparent. They start seeking pro-active consent at each stage of data collection and sharing. The users on their part should have the ability to withdraw consent at any time. n

pratap@governancenow.com

Comments

 

Other News

Tech firm, telcos prepare to enter 5G era

As the government is set to roll out the 5G spectrum auction, the network providers are also equipping 5th generation network-ready LTE technology.  According to the government, the technology would have an impact of more than $1 trillion on the Indian economy. It is also expected to transform educati

On a personal note: Rabbi Shergill

Punjabi singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Rabbi Shergill rose to fame in 2004 with his chartbuster song ‘Bullah Ki Jaana’ from his debut album ‘Rabbi’. Inspired by rock and Punjabi folk music, he uses Punjabi language to create acoustic rock-based ballads. His poetic and social

NALCO registers Rs 589 crore operating profit in Q3 of 2018-19 FY

National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO), country’s leading manufacturer and exporter of alumina and aluminium, has posted an operating profit of Rs 589 crore in Q3 of 2018-19 FY, registering 80 percent growth over the same period of last year.   Net profit of the company

Many electronic companies still have no take-back system: Report

In 2016, 44.7 million tonnes of e-waste was generated globally which is expected to increase to 52.2 million tonnes in 2021. As of 2016, it was found out that India is the second and fifth highest generator (in Asia and globally respectively) of e-waste with 2 million tonnes. The mounting pile of e-waste h

India’s per capita power consumption likely to grow by two fold, says power minister

Union power minister RK Singh has said the per capita current power consumption of 1,200 units is expected to grow 2-3 times at par with the international consumption after every Indian gets access to electricity. Singh said the power sector is witnessing an increased demand which is further expect

Net profit of Rs 616 crore posted by SAIL in Q3 of 2018-19

SAIL has posted a profit (profit after tax) of Rs 616 crore in Q3 of 2018-19 FY. SAIL has managed to better its performance over the previous quarter as well by more than 11 percent when it stood at Rs 554 crore. The turnover for Q3 FY’19 improved by three percent over corresponding period of

Current Issue

Current Issue

Video

CM Nitish’s convoy attacked in Buxar

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter