What are my rights?
Updated on Jul 10, 2022
First, let’s understand the concept of “ownership” and “sharing” a little better. Let’s start by classifying data and how we would share / not share it. Here are a few everyday examples:
Level 0: Critical Personal Data – Most private:
My bank account where I am the principal owner of the data. The bank cannot send my data to anyone else without asking me. However, as a fiduciary, they are required to monitor my account and alert me for every transaction. Where transactions seem suspicious, the bank can take further action, including sharing data with regulators and law enforcement agencies where required.
Level 1: Sensitive personal data – Somewhat private:
My Gmail conversations. Google won’t share exactly what I write in an email with anyone else but the recipient I specify. But they will profile me as someone who talks about motorbikes, Led Zeppelin, single malts, etc. – and sell my “unique identifier / anonymised me” to an advertiser.
You need to know that nothing you type is truly confidential – though your specific messages will be kept private.
Level 2: Open house
Facebook, Twitter, etc. – where you post stuff wanting it to be discovered and liked by your friends. This is not in scope for our discussion.
OK, I understand my rights. Now what?
Great, do remember that every right comes with a responsibility. You could drive a vehicle as sturdy as a battle tank, but you still need to wear a seat belt!
Three rules should keep you safe:
- Choose what you share
How many times have you shared your mobile number with the cashier at any random store? Was that really necessary? You were promised “reward points” but in reality your mobile number was sold to telemarketing agency to call you or text you annoyingly.
- Choose whom you share with
In contrast to the above example, it’s perfectly fine to share your bank account number with the cashier at a bank branch, or a customer service executive on a helpline. They need that information to identify you and serve you.
- Choose how you share your data
Would you really want to call out your bank account number in the middle of a crowded bank branch? Instead, could you write it down on a slip of paper and pass it to the cashier? Would you seriously make a call to your bank in a crowded place where people can overhear you? Or would you do that in the privacy of your home?