“As the digital economy keeps rapidly evolving, consumer awareness and capacity building initiatives also need to grow” CUTS International

Jaipur, February 09, 2021

In 2017, the Supreme Court of India upheld privacy as a fundamental right. This initiated government’s attempt to enact a Personal Data Protection Bill, which is currently under consideration by the Joint Parliamentary Committee. In addition to this, there has been an upsurge in the usage of operating systems, mobile applications and other third party applications which has brought to the forefront privacy concerns for consumers. To this end, on the occasion of Safer Internet Day 2021, CUTS International, hosted an online conversation between Deepak Maheshwari, Distinguished Fellow, CUTS International and Shivangi Nadkarni, CEO and Co-Founder of Arrka to shed light on important privacy issues while using mobile applications and put forward suggestions to address the same. 

During the conversation, some apparent consumer behaviors which lead to privacy risks such as giving exhaustive permissions to mobile applications to use data and keeping unnecessary mobile applications were discussed. This leads to tremendous extraction of data, which is used by third party applications putting the data out of control of the consumers. Speakers suggested that consumers should give minimal permissions to these applications and regularly clean their phones to get rid of unnecessary applications.

The conversation highlighted privacy issues with respect to instant messaging, fintech and usage of super applications, such as sharing of metadata, sharing sensitive financial data and inadvertent data sharing with third party application. Furthermore, it was stressed that these concerns become even more pertinent for privacy of children with increasing use of ed-tech applications and other mobile application, which puts them at a greater risk.

The interaction also brought forth the importance of giving choice to consumers so that they can have greater control of their data. Additionally, it was also recommended that consumers should avoid downloading applications from unauthorized app stores and websites and should re-check the permissions of existing applications on their phones.

Moreover, the industry and policymakers need to come up with appropriate regulations and reforms regarding data protection and be sensitive to consumer capacities. For this, the speakers suggested that there is a need for greater adoption of tools like privacy labels which can provide details regarding the data collection and the purpose of processing. Additionally, principles of ‘privacy by design’ should be deliberated upon to make them more practicable.

For further details, contact:

Vijay Singh: vs@cuts.org

Shubhangi Heda: sbg@cuts.org