Youth and Privacy: It does matter
By Faisal Farooqui
Imagine a busy highway. A small child of four or five years old is running into the traffic. His/her parents nowhere to be seen. Who do you think should be blamed if there’s an accident?
Now imagine that the highway is social media, and the toddler is one of the many young users. The parents are the internet entrepreneurs and lawmakers, and the cars on this highway are the various data protection and privacy laws. Now who do you think should be blamed if the young user’s privacy is not protected?
In a world swarming with the new generation, we have all found the need to blame them when the question of privacy comes up. Statements like - ‘kids these days share everything on social media. There’s no concept of privacy for them.’ - are being used more and more.
Here’s my question - if the youth really doesn’t believe in privacy, why do their phones have maximum security codes to prevent anyone from using their device?
The younger generation, although innocent and comparatively naive, is still worried about their data privacy. Their notions about what data is important and what is not, is different from the older generation, but they also feel the need to protect who they are. More and more younger children, when clicking photos, choose to angle their phones in a way that it blocks their faces. The youth might share their every meal online and what goes on in their minds, but they choose to strategically conceal their faces.
Exactly like every young teenager, they have a private life. Our generation preferred to keep it hidden in a diary, their world lives on the internet. Similarly, when we grew up, we chose to discard our old diaries. We either stuffed them away in some corner, or discarded it altogether. The younger generation needs that option on the internet. If a photo clicked at 15 years of age is not protected, and can haunt you when you’re a part of the workforce, who do you blame? The internet? Or the naive child to clicked on agree before using a social media app?
I firmly believe that whatever may be the age, people want their privacy. Their data might differ based on interests and age, but their need for privacy will always remain. Right from a young age of 12, when they first create their social media accounts, to the ripe old age of 90, when they are just looking to renew old connections, people prefer a certain level of assurance that their sensitive data is protected, even from companies, because like we cannot blame an unknowing toddler for running into traffic, we cannot blame a young teenager for clicking on agree to ‘terms and condition's when they hardly understand it.
As internet entrepreneurs, law makers, and policy makers, it is our duty, nay responsibility, to make more stringent guidelines in terms of data protection and privacy. The mass audience might not be aware, but as the people with access to this knowledge, it is our job to protect them in the best way we can. The youth might not realise the implications of using certain apps, but as creator of apps, we must adhere to our responsibility of protecting their data, and letting them decide a suitable course of action in the future, when they understand the laws deeper.
Faisal Farooqui is the founder of MouthShut.com and a governing body member of SFLC.in