Prerogative of your privacy with the tech giants like WHATSAPP, TWITTER, FACEBOOK,INSTAGRAM,and like many others is being largely brought into questions and judicial overview as to what it actually constitutes in the strictest sense and what modalities need to be adopted to design the much-needed safeguards and framework of its judicial redressal in cases of brazen and conflagrant infringement, violations and exploitation for commercial gains that all social media platforms are vying for in this ever expanding digitized world.

With WhatsApp’s new privacy policy has triggered an outcry worldwide with around fifty crores(500 million active users in India alone) about their unauthorized breach of personal data collection to be used by the third parties to target potential clientele and the users’ buying and shopping preferential trend researches for making bigger and wider inroads into the online shopping domains.

As usual WhatsApp’s implausible and perhaps inexplicable and standard response remains the same that you have agreed to the terms and conditions reading all the clauses for using the app and those who are willing to quit are welcome to do so brushing aside its moral obligation of safeguarding the users’ personal information and protecting them from any of their misuse or leakage through recurrent breaches, not uncommon these days in the hands of the seasoned hackers and mercenaries involved.

It is worthwhile to mention that even Zuckerberg, Facebook C.E.O when called before the US congress regarding fixing professional accountability and giving assurance about setting higher standards of practices of running these doyens of social media houses Zuckerberg had to confess and admit that there has been rampant breaches in costumers’ data protection and somehow accidentally the collected information reached the third party companies which in turn misused them for their marketing and commercial gains.

Although Zuckerberg left the core committee assured that they are committed and trying hard to stop this menace because any breach of personal information can damage an individual’s fundamental rights and freedom, including the risk of identity theft and many other fraudulent mischiefs that hackers or third parties involved may wantonly resort to without letting the principal, the first part’s knowledge and consent.

The need of the hour is not just an eye wash to the entire conundrum by certain companies and individuals agreeing to one another but the right intervention of the government which can intervene time to time and on occasions of disputes as the sole arbitrator because the issue is not just restricted to the individual rights of freedom and companies’ rights of business operations but also the social and national security of any sovereign state.

Recent blanket ban and suspension of Trumps’ Twitter account permanently is a case in point suggesting how powerful these social media platforms have become and it is no wonder that the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and U.K parliamentarians along with some others have voiced their legitimate concerns over the sweeping powers being entrusted to these giant tech companies which can hold anyone on ransom. let alone the common individual who has got hardly any say in bringing them to book in case of the infringement of personal freedom and right to speech.

These social platforms should be seen as a double-edged sword and its non-judicious use might prove deadly for not just persons but the society at large, so it is imperative that there should be a fine balance between how much of leverage can be accorded to them in stipulating their binding terms and conditions, to be met by the gullible users and provisioning strictest penalties in case of their gross violations and irresponsible conducts or data breaches which has been witnessed so invariably lately .

Although it is never in the interest of any organisation to fail in ensuring data privacy protection because of the reputational risk involved and its core values definitely get eroded as they might lose the customers’ trust gained over the years, there still flagrant breaches of huge scales are being reported primarily because of unscrupulous tech giants have become a formidable force to reckon with and they have the audacity to lock horns with the governments also.

The companies or the tech giants and social networks need to ensure that their co-partner companies like suppliers, retailers or service providers don’t resort to such nefarious acts of stealing data and are well-equipped to handle them transparently, incorporating agreements about data breach notification obligations and cooperation in fulfilling data subject requests and such commitments.

In future newer regulations coupled with stricter requirements and steeper penalty provisions will be paramount to all the successes that these tech houses are aspiring for and these have to be imbed in the core competencies of all successful business models.

Mohammad Haseen Ahmed, King Abdulaziz University, English Language Institute, Jeddah,K.S.A mdhsnahmad@gmail.com


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