Online privacy, is it still a necessity?

By Benny Thomas   |   Tuesday, 19 January 2010, 09:38 Hrs   |    4 Comments
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Online privacy, is it still a necessity?
Bangalore: Recently, Facebook's Founder Mark Zuckerberg added fuel to the fire after saying online privacy is no longer the 'social norm,' this at a time when Facebook's privacy policies, which some users feel is inadequate, are surrounded by controversies. Even privacy watchdog Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) last month filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that Facebook is endangering its users' private data. However, Zuckerberg feels that people are more comfortable now to share information on the internet, hence online privacy has evolved. "People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people," he said, citing the increased number of people who have been posting blogs over the past five or six years. Critics have also said that Facebook's default privacy settings give search engines too much access to Facebook data. "Having no privacy online is really troubling for people who care about their privacy," says Allwin Agnel, CEO, Pagalguy.com. According to him, social networking sites should decide upon on what is good for their users and their mindset needs to be changed. "There is a wrong assumption that people are sharing everything with the world through these sites, while in reality most of them share only with their family and friends," Agnel adds. Facebook fanatic Nishanth D'Cruz, an MBA student, is concerned about his online privacy as he feels that this will make his parents keep an eye on him always, which he doesn't prefer. "I don't want my dad coming and peeping into my Facebook profile, because there are some things there, which I would like to share only with my friends," says D'Cruz. So, are social networking sites turning into a parenting tool now? Maybe, in some cases. For entrepreneurs these sites are evolving into a marketing tool and less privacy may just be the perfect icing on the cake. "Being an early adapter of social networking sites, I am not very much concerned about my online privacy, because as an entrepreneur I would like the world to know more about me," says Rajiv Poddar, Founder of CallGraph.in. Poddar feels that being in a country like India, not all secure information needs to be shared online. "In India not all details are digitized, hence there is lesser chance of cyber theft from these sites," he adds. Another entrepreneur, Rajesh Lalwani, Founder of Blogworks.in and Pitchh.com feels that people belonging to the newer generation often share more of their personal details through these sites, while the older generation is still reluctant and prefer more privacy. "Today, as advanced communication devices and new sites are being launched, the youth is sharing more stuff online," Lalwani says. He feels that people should also think about other's privacy in order to have a better atmosphere for online sharing. "When we talk about our online privacy, we should also ask ourselves if we respect other's privacy," Lalwani adds. Though, having lesser privacy in sites like Facebook may be helpful for marketing purposes, for personal profiles to be made public things need to evolve especially in countries like India. This scenario may result in people becoming more reluctant to have online profiles, thus sites like Facebook may start losing its edge in this burgeoning country.