Mobile Internet

Privacy a myth in today’s internet?

The amount of permissions we have to accept while installing an app on our smartphone is quite appalling. Most of the times we don’t even read before tapping on the much needed ‘Allow’ and most of the apps refuse to be installed if we don’t give them the required permissions. This is one way to breach privacy. However, this is not the only kind of breaching that takes place. Many internet leaders are accused of this in past and also in the present.

The most recent news everyone might remember is where Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was accused of selling personal data of 50 million users to a consultancy firm named Cambridge Analytica. He was taken to court, questioned by the senators but was asked the wrong questions. However, the latest of accused is Google.

The EU consumer organizations comprising of seven nations in total have accused Google of using deceitful methods to track its users. The organizations from countries Netherlands, Greece, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, and the Czech Republic have claimed that this information can babble about a person’s religious belief, health conditions, and even their sexual orientations.

Google is inculpated to do this by using a function known as ‘Location History’. The EU consumer organizations have filed a complaint under GDPR; EU’s data protection scheme. The accusers are blaming Google to be disrespectful towards its users. Google, however, came back with a mild response saying that the function of ‘Location History’ can be turned off and edited at any given time. Not only Google but there is another application facing an alarming situation in the name of WhatsApp.

WhatsApp founder Brian Acton made a scary revelation in September that he actually sold users’ privacy to Facebook. Turning the whole propaganda against the already under fire Facebook. Acton had created WhatsApp keeping privacy as its main focus. However, Facebook’s intention to advertise it has acted out against it and caused a mayhem leading to multiple exits at WhatsApp.

Founders, Brian Acton, and Jan Koum left their beloved company in a year’s time. Neeraj Arora followed his founders months later. Arora, who was WhatsApp’s Chief Business Officer issued a statement on Facebook indirectly poking the privacy breach agenda. These exits have come at a very crucial time for WhatsApp as it is already trying to cope with multiple allegations of the privacy breach and also of spreading misinformation.

This mess is not limited to the higher end companies. The Indian government last year asked all its army officials to uninstall a staggering 42 number of applications from their phones. They claimed that those apps were sending the user data to servers in China which could be used in a harmful way. Among those applications were some of the popular ones like SHAREit, WeChat, VivaVideo and also TrueCaller.

Such attacks on users and their privacy from companies that lead the internet is nothing less than eye-opening. In the wake of technological advancements we are dealing with such scandals which leads to one question, is Privacy a myth in today’s internet?

– Unmesh Phule

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