What you’re missing by not reading the fine print

What you’re missing by not reading the fine print

Among all the fundamental rights taught to us in school, one right that didn’t quite get highlighted enough was the ‘right to privacy’. It is because this right has gained its importance, as well as imperativeness after the dawn of the digital era. Our information is now ready to be sold, distributed, and analysed as bytes and raw data by organisations and media everywhere, yet keeping our information private is not one of our top priorities, something which the internet wholly takes advantage of. The latest to this trend was FaceApp, an app that gained popularity in a span of a few days with many celebrities using it and uploading the result on social media- making it a memorable trend of 2019. What it basically does is gains access to your gallery and (of course) face, and puts filters to it such as old, feminine, masculine, bearded, etc.


This is a prime example of another mindless trend going viral, with every Tom, Dick, and Harry climbing on the bandwagon- except without realising that we have given this Russian application questionable origins and access to millions of faces. This is a grave privacy violation, because we are willingly accepting the terms and conditions of it extracting our data, due to the human tendency of not reading the fine print. We still value convenience and entertainment over a precarious arising situation, where the way in which big corporations and social media platforms choose to share our data.


Often, this caution is questioned with- how can an application having access to our faces lead up to a human rights violation? As David Choffnes, an assistant professor at Northeastern University has stated, they could simply just Photoshop you into an image for starters—make a deep fake, for example, where you’re doing something compromising or embarrassing. There’s also the potential that they could sell that data. Apart from the usual misuse of the image, there are security concerns. We use our faces now to unlock devices or log into devices, so this implies giving one of your key credentials to someone else for free; pictures you upload might not just be your face, so you may be giving other people’s faces to this company, and they possess the discretion to use it in whichever way possible. Worst case scenario, they could sell faces to the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and try to use this technology to identify undocumented immigrants for deportation.


With social media and popular websites collecting our data, and weaponising it in the next war, or to change world-altering consequences, it is of utmost importance that we begin reading the fine line, and have complete control of what information we are giving away.


Sharanya Mathur

sharanya mathur


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