Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Privacy 1, Rubbish news 0

An oft repeated statement about social networking sites is that putting up any personal information online is an automatic renunciation of privacy.

"If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place," former Google CEO Eric Schmidt famously said.

However, using the many benefits of sites that encourage sharing personal information does not automatically translate into non-existent expectations of privacy.

So, I'm glad that there's been a recent ruling that's a definite shot in the arm for privacy in India, especially given recent possible erosions of the same.

Details of the case against TV9 Hyderabad brought in front of the News Broadcasting Standards Authority of India have been explained in detail at that link. To summarise, TV9 accessed the photographs and personal details of members of a networking site for gay men and splashed the same all over the tele in their hour-long report about "rampant gay culture" in Hyderabad, claiming that the information was easily accessible and in the public domain.

The absolutely juicy part of the ruling against their argument:
“While the names, particulars and photographs etc of individuals may be available in the.. members-only section, it cannot be said that such names, particulars and photographs are therefore available in the public domain”

As paraphrased:
Justice Verma seems to be saying, merely because one volunteers to publish information about oneself on a social networking site, one has not thereby foregone all of one’s rights to privacy against the world. Social networking sites are thereby construed as private spaces and decidedly not “public” ones.

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