The Boom of “Big” Data: Boon or Bane?

-RameezMurad

Data digital flow

Data in 21st century is the new gold for the companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft to prepare computers to identify objects and photos and analyse consumer behaviour using artificial intelligence technology.

With help of companies like Datalogix, Acxiom, Epsilon, and BlueKai; Facebook uses your data to target Ads. These companies collect information about you through your mailing list, browser cookies/cache and also through various other means of data pooling. Later they sell these data to Facebook and other social networking sites. It is from there these ads start appearing on the websites you visit, based on the products you had previously visited on your favourite shopping site.

The data collected from various sources can be used to develop new innovative products and services. UIDAI’s Project Aadhaar is designed to grab your data and store it in an online server. Clause 57 of Aadhaar law allows private organisations to use Aadhaar for identification and authentication. On 5th of January 2017 Supreme Court refused to hear cases challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar by stating shortage of judges, but the court however observed that data collection by private agencies is not a good idea.

The State and various corporate giants are eager to garner more and more data from its citizens and customers respectively. Most of the shopping sites want their customers to use their own app because they can get direct access to consumer and through the app, companies can draw more data than in the desktop version to understand the consumers.

United Nations recognizes privacy as a fundamental human right in the UN Declaration of human rights, the international covenant on civil and political rights and regional treaties. Right to privacy is important part of individual’s freedom to prevent abuse of power. However, privacy is not a fundamental law in India. Will a time come when we will have to compromise our privacy for development? Are we heading to a surveillance state? India’s development model still raises these concerns.

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