Teens at the Young Writers' Club brainstormed to list the all that they know about data privacy before they got introduced to a currently relevant debate across the world- Data privacy as an individual right vs granting access to the concerned authorities in exceptional circumstances.
"Our online activities are being tracked. Just the other day, my father and I were looking for information for a product that I wanted to buy. When we got on to the internet for a different purpose, we saw so many ads for the product I was looking at. It almost felt like someone was keeping track of what I wanted to buy," shared a teen when we kickstarted the discussion.
"I got similar reel suggestions soon after I watched a reel that my friend shared on Instagram private chat. Sometimes it is irritating as depressing reels keep playing one after another and I didn't even ask for it," said another.
"My fitness tracker data obviously was accessed as I got Nike ads, with shoes that would help me become a better athlete!" Many similar such contributions came up setting the stage for what was to come.
When asked how these instances made them feel, they all agreed that it was uncomfortable but they have come to terms with it as they realise that they need the internet for multiple purposes.
The case study
In order to given them a real life context of this debate, they were given an imaginary case to read. The case detective had to narrow down on the thieves who were responsible for stealing a heritage diamond necklace from the city museum. She narrowed down on three suspects but to convince any of them she needed more evidence which she could get only by being granted access to their personal data. She was uncomfortable with the idea but eventually does not have much of a choice. She uses a friend's help and a software to comb through volumes of personal data to narrow down the culprit. She successfully nabs the culprit and the case gets closed.
Triggers for further discussion:
The suspects had no idea that their personal data was being accessed. Was it fair on them? What if all of them were innocent? Isn't this an invasion of privacy? Answers to those questions depend on which side of the table one chooses to be. If we choose to be the detective or the general public, we would want the thieves to be brought to justice. But if we choose to be the individuals whose data got accessed without their knowledge, that puts us in a very uncomfortable situation.
Possible solutions and problem points
What if there is a concept of consent to share data? Wouldn't that give a culprit time to erase any incriminating evidence?
How about a search warrant? While that sounds like a possible and fair idea, the fact still remains that one's personal data is going to be under scrutiny especially if one is innocent. The worry of being framed also sets in.
Getting a search warrant takes time and time may not be available in a time critical investigation.
There must be regulations that suggest the extent to which data can be accessed. Here again the seriousness of the situation is a variable factor making it a thin line to cross.
Hacking is always a way to access data. Enhanced technology to prevent hacking is constantly evolving. Providing back door access weakens the system further.
The fact that this matter is taking time to reach a resolution is an indicator of debatable the matter is. There does not seem to be win win situation for all based on the little research we managed to do. Going forward, we would be trying to assimilate more information in this matter as a way to enhance our awareness as well as remember to be careful while using the internet.
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Both weekday and weekend batches are available at the Young Readers' Club. While this program is for the 8-12 age group, the Young Writers' Club program for the 13-15 age group offers a weekly platform to read and discuss curated articles from the news, observe writing approaches and practise one's writing skills.
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