By Yashiveer Kirti Anand; ILNU, Nirma University
In this technology driven age, everything is getting Digital. The digital revolution has made our life comfortable and easier to live. There was a time when we used to rely on postcards to send our message to people, but with the advent of emails, our messages can be sent within seconds. Technology has revolutionized each and every arena in a person’s life, but as we say, “If there is good, there is evil” and technology has a dark side which we see when we flip the coin. There are a few big tech companies who have started to use this tech revolution to their advantage by doing their bidding which we ignored for a long time, until we realised that we were digging our own graves.
Data is the new gold
With the usage of technology becoming an everyday activity, we don’t realise how much dependent we are on them, from our daily schedule, to our work related files. We are living a digital life, which means we let our data be stored in an application or software. Have we realised what will happen if there is a breach? In The Cambridge Analytica scandal more than 50 million users’ data was leaked by Facebook for anyone to look at. These days various companies employ data mining as one of their tools for better market research so that the companies know the choices of people so that they can sell accordingly, this is done both legally and illegally. As we are so engrossed in the benefits that we reap from them, we let the companies fool us and end up giving our personal data which can not only be used by companies for unfair advertisements, rather it can also be preferred for knowing political affiliations. Therefore, now data is considered as new gold.
Antitrust movement against the tech giants
In the year 2019 France introduced GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) tax. This digital tax would be imposed upon big tech giants and internet companies. GAFA would enable France to levy 3 percent in taxes if their turnover was over 750 million Euros. Earlier in 2016, A General data protection Regulation (GDPR) was brought in Europe to prevent the tech giants from stealing the users’ data and to penalize or take strict actions against them if found to be indulged in devious activities. This Regulation replaced the Data Protection Directive 95/46/Ec. Since then there have been several instances when they were fined, with reformation and actions being taken everywhere, India recently brought changes in IT act. The act would protect the users’ data to be stolen; the latest tussle between the Indian government and Twitter is one such example wherein the arrogance of these tech giants could be seen. With the tech giants not taking action even after the relief period had crossed, legal actions were bound to be taken.
Issues in India
The Personal Data Protection Bill was brought in Lok Sabha in the year 2019 by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. It aimed to protect personal data of individuals and thus establish data protection authority. In India as we lack any instrument, the companies can bring in any changes, for instance the recent change in the privacy clause of whatsapp which will share the users’ data with Facebook and whatsapp giving an ultimatum that if the terms and conditions are not accepted, the user account will be deleted, and twitter’s random activity of suspending the Cabinet Minister’s accounts wherein; Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor’s account being suspended to latest being the IT Minister account being suspended, over no plausible reasons, these activities show how powerful and arrogant they have become, so opening cases against them and penalizing them for not obeying the law of land has to be done.
Delhi High court pleaded to stay the probe against them, but it was rejected by the Delhi High Court, Twitter too was named as one of co-conspirators in the latest FIR filed in Uttar Pradesh over a fake video being circulated on the platform after it lost its intermediary status as they didn’t comply with the new IT rules. While the new rules ask the tech companies to make amends, they are unwilling to do so, which has drawn flak from the government.
The updated Personal data protection bill has apparently shown us the skeletons in the closets of the tech giants and how they have been using our data to manipulate us, and we were too naïve to let it swing by, The series of legal actions are required as data leak cannot be neglected over the freedom of speech, The war against the tech giants have not only begun and this will be tough as the reason these tech giants have become so arrogant is because they know, we are heavily dependent upon them, as India has worlds’ largest user base, but we cannot let this become a handicap as to fight against unfair means of obtaining information.