Arshid Malik
Arshid Malik

Imagine, digitally, that you are standing on crossroads and a hundred thousand people have a clear view of you. You do not know any one of them. And all of a sudden all your clothes disappear, poof, your briefs and vests and all. A full sized man and you are left bare naked, and all this has nothing to do with you. How would you feel? A spectacle you would be, no. You would feel plenty of shame and at the same time anger at the person or entity who or which made a public display of your darkest secrets. Now stop imagining and carefully read what I have written.

This is the digital age and we are so prone to digitization that soon enough our lives would solely rely on the digitization for survival of all kinds. The digital age feels so groovy because it sets you free, so to say. Everything is like only a click away. All kinds of information is at your fingertips and your community of friends and colleagues is woven so intricately close and it feels like you are all together all the time. That’s the wonder of the digital world.

We are everywhere when we are on “Facebook”, “Twitter”, “WAYN”, “Tagged”, “Linkedin” and the whole plethora of the social networking sites. We remember the birthdays better for our social networking sites remind us just in time to buy that greeting card and that small token of love for our loved ones. You get sick and now you do not approach the doctor who would fish out at least five hundred rupees from your pocket on the very first consultation and instead you look up the “Web” for all kinds of home remedies and over the counter prescriptions. It is a large world knit so small, all at the hands of digitization.

The other day I received a call on my cell from an unknown number, it was a lady at the other side. And this is not the first time I have received such a call. I receive 3-4 such calls almost every day. The lady was from a multinational insurance company and wanted to walk me through some of their pension plans.

I stuck to the line and just listened up to her. She eventually told me that she had my office address and would be sending a representative the day after to fill the forms and stuff. That is very average stuff nowadays, but what bemused me is as to where on Earth did these guys get my information from. They had my name, my cell numbers, my office address, my age and all. Then it struck. It is the digital revolution that is making information accessible.

Yes, we are on the list. Whoever you are you are on the list. You are on the list of mobile telephony companies, internet service providers, the social networking sites which we subscribe to without even thinking what we are doing before sharing our very personal information. And thus we are scrutinized, crudely and we were never even asked for permission, or is there really any need to seek permission.

Our data, our personal information – what we have been doing, where we have been, who we have been talking to and all sorts of personal information is out there at the very disposal of the establishment and the corporate sector which “usefully” shares it. We are being traced everywhere we go and perhaps all that over the pretext of “national security”. Well, one may understand how critically defence mechanisms need to be installed to secure the nation but what happens when our information and our right to it is compromised.

The establishment has all the information about us, over phone calls, our social networking commentaries, our text messages our BBMs and all. We are exposed all the time and we perhaps do not even realize it for the glamour and glitz of the digital age is so very astounding. But our freedom is being compromised and that certainly is not a good thing and that also in a democracy.

We have our rights but who cares. How many things are there in your life that you share over the cell phone talk, instant messaging and stuff and do not want anyone to know about them except the ones you actually share them with. Doesn’t matter for “they” know it all. And it is stored for years, yes what you have been doing for the past few years is all stored up so that anytime the agencies can look you up and find what you have been doing and that is a commercial exploit. For if this information gets into the hands of those who want to practically “rob” us in a commercial sense have all the information they would need to get is into a compromised situation.

We are naked out there and we don’t even know. We are what we do and that is being openly traded out there like a commodity. Is it justified? It is not. We have every right to protecting ourselves from this onslaught. We need laws that would secure us our freedoms. We do not want our secrets out there in the open.

Do you know that when you look up something in the so-called world’s most powerful search engine, Google that is, the results that are furnished to you are tailor made to yourself and your exact circumstance. Do not ever think that you are getting all the results. If you are in Kashmir and Google up something the results you get would be entirely different from what you would get back in Delhi against the same subject. That is protocol that is being pressed down on us and we think we are somewhat free.

In Europe every citizen has the right to claim information from any agency or company as the law says it is rightfully theirs. Such laws exist in many countries in different forms to protect the liberties of their citizens but India is nowhere on the map. We are at the “mercy” of the “Corp”.


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