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The effort is on to limit corporate surveillance, while we reap enormous benefits of data collection. It’s just the beginning, lots are still to come, making our life easy, productive & enjoyable. While data collection has become as natural as air we breathe, the flip side can be positively dangerous. The ideal synthesis is maximising the benefits & minimising the harms.

To achieve this legal facilitation is a must. The companies have to be made liable for data beaches. The cost benefit formula should not allowed to work, as the cost of the falls on the user whose data is exposed. This principle of externality& is a disincentive to move towards fail safe security. Putting the blame of choice on the user is self defeating, as he does not understand the complexity. Few law suits don’t provide an answer.

Data use is another complicated issue. Google’s PageRank algorithm is proprietary. Proprietary claims cannot have precedence over transparency. The details of the proprietary software/algorithm has to be made public by law. When the data belongs to the users how & why can it be left to the company to decide its fate?Mandated transparency ought to be the rule where algorithms hold power over people. Methods of auditing algorithms are available.

Once the ubiquitous data collection happens, its certainly more difficult to control. While this goes on, regulation of data collection is critical. This can be most effective. The corporations for their own benefit talk of data use & put forth compliance information to substantiate. The two are different issues. In a computer mediated world data collection has to hugely regulated. Opt-in concept has be used in place of the present Opt-out concept.

Specific rights for the specific types of data needs to legally spelt out. One single digital transaction emanates varieties of data, inclusive of metadata. Madrid Privacy Declaration, 2009 & GDPR 2018 can be a beginning. What data, for what purpose & for how long?


Sanjay Sahay

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