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Where is Privacy in Google Era?

WebdeskMay 28, 2021, 09:38 AM IST

Where is Privacy in Google Era?

The wife sends an email to her husband. The email first reaches Google’s server in the US & then redirected to the husband’s email id. Before her husband, Google reads the mail. A mail is sent by one sitting in one room to another sitting in another, the mail travels from room to room via the USA. Where’s privacy? If we’re all sharing our data with Google, why not with our own Government if required? Similarly, WhatsApp claims its messages to be end-to-end encrypted. Doesn’t it retain a copy of the original message in their server? It’s likely they do. Else, how’d they shared it with their parent company Facebook which they claim they’re committed to doing? Whatever message ex-Mayor of Kolkata had sent to his lady love via WhatsApp, WhatsApp knows all those even if no one else. Where is privacy? Even deleted WhatsApp messages can be retrieved & read back by installing particular software. How’d that be possible if original messages are not retained on the server? In reality, privacy doesn’t exist in the Google era & big techies know that well. They also know how privacy is a soft-corner for most people in spite of having irresistible attraction towards accessing net-dependent services, entertainment & connectivity. Big techies know the psychological twist of common men. They know people’s attraction towards net-dependent services & social media platforms is more than their privacy need. However, before subscribing to net-dependent platforms, people tend to raise all concerns for breach of privacy. While people elucidate pro-privacy arguments before stepping into social media platforms, they remain grossly poised to use them. Big techies know the mapping of customer behaviour & read between the lines of customers’ communications. Thus they marketed a Social Media Platform for such a privacy-conscious segment of people who needed some sort of believable assurance ruling out a breach of privacy. They positioned WhatsApp in that segment & WA well utilized the niche. WhatsApp was meant for those social media users who wanted privacy along with freedom of connectivity. Moreover, WhatsApp also offered features like sharing photo, video, audio & Office Documents that dragged a larger user base for the software. WhatsApp sold the idea of end-to-end encryption to assure its users of privacy. They claimed messages sent via WhatsApp get converted into an encrypted code language (which is a dynamic process) within the WhatsApp server & then gets redirected to the receiver wherein the encrypted message gets reconverted into the original language by WhatsApp software. Such a concept convinced a large section of global mass and offered relief to that segment of the Social Media users who were poised to use social media but was simultaneously hesitant about privacy factor. However, since WhatsApp is committed to sharing all their messages with their parent company Facebook, it is technically & practically impossible for them not to have copies of original messages saved in their server. This means end-to-end encryption was never full-proof protection of privacy. Moreover, as WhatsApp shares their data with Facebook, ethically & fundamentally they may not disagree to share it with the Government of India if asked for. A business organization may not disagree to comply with the law of the land where they are in business. Even if fundamental policies of any business come in conflict with those of the Government, the business must accommodate in accordance with the legislative requirements of the Government if they want to continue in business. However, to comply with the new rules of GOI's IT Act, WhatsApp would certainly lose the advantage of their niche positioning and promotional USP of promoting privacy through end-to-end encryption. Complying with new IT rules would take away WhatsApp’s business USP of 'privacy' & place the software on the same pedestal with similar other software. Moreover, the moment WhatsApp would lose its privacy factor, it would face steeper competition from other chat software. In fact, WhatsApp is already facing challenges from Telegram as the latter has ample features which WhatsApp do not have. The youth segment is already shifting to Telegram causing headache to WA. This is the real reason why WhatsApp lodged a case against GOI with regards to new IT rules. As a business organization, they have every right to do that. However, privacy can never be more important than the safety, security of people. Privacy is indispensable till everything is fine. However, when serious crimes like Delhi Riot takes place through private chatting channels & the inception point of the crime chain can’t be detected because of the privacy clause, then it becomes burdensome. But are there any WhatsApp user so naïve who have used the software truly believing that WhatsApp has not shared their messages with anyone & has kept their privacy intact?

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