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Data Privacy debate grows. Is the risk really worth it?

India the next big player already has a billion people on a biometric database; it will also soon have close to 500 million people using smartphones by 2020. With data being extracted and viewed non-stop, what happens to your data privacy? We saw the Cambridge Analytica scandal that showed us how privacy is a thing of the past.

With consultants in Donald Trump’s campaign misusing data of millions of Facebook users during the US elections to wing public emotions, we eventually have to realize that we are living in the digital age where opinions can be triggered instantly. Even Mark Zuckerberg, the Founder of Facebook, admitted that “not enough” security measures were taken to secure this data breach.

US Congress now aims to creating laws around snooping on data collected through phones. Unfortunately, the pace of technological change is so fast that governments are having a tough coping with it.

India is no better. We are also vulnerable to breaches in the form of digital snooping/phishing. Although the Data Protection Law is in the form of a white paper, businesses and the government are also exhorting people to use the digital ecosystem; data protection is still given the cold treatment.

Everyone, young and old, is downloading apps. Once in the mobile, these apps begin to study users (albeit without revealing individual identities), which makes it possible for data scientists (employed by these app companies) to study consumer behavior, tastes and preferences. All of us click on “I Agree” without reading the standard legal contract that binds the two parties when downloading the app. “You”, the user, allows the company that owns the app to use the data in your mobile and data generated from the app itself.

Joseph S Jayakumar, Director of Amstar TechnologiesTraining and solutions partner for IBM says: “Data sharing is real. You cannot do away with it in the digital era. But, if it is security that everyone is worried about, then every company has that on top of their list; consumer protection tops the priority list.”

For those who fear data breaches, let us remind you: most of us have already have shared our lives with Big Basket, Flipkart, Byju’s, Myntra, Ola, Uber, Google, Amazon, Netflix, Swiggy, Apple, and Facebook. Most days, we don’t worry about what they do with our data because we believe they offer us convenience and still protect our confidentiality details. But, there is a dark side to this data and no one knows who ensures that consumer data is protected. In India, consumers are wide open to data risks like phishing, malware and even ransom ware.

What is really happening?

“Society has barely begun to address the moral and legal questions of what is private and what is public in this era of big data,” opines Joseph S Jayakumar. We are misjudging consumer attitudes which will threaten mass switch-offs from consumers across levels when they feel their privacy is being violated. Very few companies are asking themselves whether they are handling customer information in a morally and legally sound way. It’s time they did it now says Jayakumar.

Where the public was once happy to go along with promises of better, more contextual services, things are changing as they discover that their privacy is not theirs anymore and see that their every move is subject to scrutiny and analysis are all too common, and brands now risk serious damage if the data they collect is breached or misused at any levels. Fears aren’t confined to identity theft and fraud. There is a growing sense that citizens are under surveillance; that their phones and web browsers may be recording information about them when they are least aware of it.

For organizations collecting and handling the data, consumer information is a rich source of competitive advantage. But it can also be a substantial risk if they lose or abuse it. There are heavy regulatory and legal consequences if they do not know how to safeguard the data properly.

Humans have been trying to predict behavior. This is where predictive analytics takes over where Amstar can play a pivotal role to help Corporates in their data security and breach initiatives.

Are consumers safe?

With more than a thousand new apps hitting the market each day and in a fast moving era of entrepreneurship and creativity, is security really keeping up? Apps and devices often rely on consumer data — including contact information, photos, and location to name a few — and can be vulnerable to digital snoops, data breaches, and real-world thieves.

The Indian government has ensured a robust consumer protection act when it comes to app snooping and has mooted a white paper on the same and will soon become a law, and it is about time Government of India realizes that a billion people have given their biometric data in the form of Aadhaar. Apart from this, there are least 300+ million people using smart phones.

India’s digital footprint, although not breached yet, may soon have a Cambridge Analytica moment if we don’t address the problem of data privacy soon. This is where Amstar comes into picture to help companies address their data privacy and legacy migration issues as a software solutions provider sums up Mr. Joseph S Jayakumar, Director of Amstar Technologies.

Reach out to us at AMSTAR Technologies to get the best of your Technology and Data protection initiatives starting today.

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