Your Mobile Number – Yours And Only Yours
Updated on Apr 13, 2023
Every right comes with a responsibility. Your right to privacy comes with a responsibility to ask yourself: “Should I really part with this information?”
One of the most critical pieces of information we carry is our 10-digit mobile number. We use it for everything from receiving OTPs for using our Aadhar ID or transacting with our bank accounts. Our mobile number also identifies us to a host of different service providers such as cabs, e-commerce websites, etc.
At the same time, our mobile number is also the information we part with freely without thinking twice.
Consider a few examples:
How many times have you stood in line at a checkout counter and overheard people call out their mobile number in public without hesitating? Does the store really need your mobile number to sell you groceries or vegetables? If the store insists, are you willing to drop your shopping bag and walk away? Or as a compromise, share a random ten-digit number?
When you enter an office building or gated apartment complex, the security guard asks you to fill in a visitor entry register. This register is open for anyone to take a picture and get their hands on hundreds or thousands of lines of precious personal information of unsuspecting people. Do you really need to share your full name and mobile number? Or can you fill in any random name and number?
Apart from our mobile numbers, there are several other ways we give away our personal data without thinking:
Have you ever discarded the brown carton that Amazon shipped your order in? Do you bother to scratch off the shipping label that carries your full name and address before you do?
Do you receive magazines or newsletters by physical post? What happens to the address label that you just ripped off?
If you visit a bank branch in person and you’re asked for your account number, would you call it out in public in a crowded space? Or would you write it down on a piece of paper and hand it over to the person at the counter?
The broader point of this post is that often we part with our data without asking whether indeed the service provider requires it. We throw away or broadcast our data without realising it.
In today’s digital age, each of these data – your name, mailing address, mobile number, etc. – are becoming extremely valuable, since they open up your gateway to an increasing plethora of services. Now, more than ever, we should be alert and vigilant about what we do with our data.
The government is putting its final touches on a privacy bill that will soon become law. Regulators such as the Reserve Bank of India have nurtured Account Aggregators to make it safe and easy for you to share your financial data.
But no law or regulation can substitute for common sense and self-care.
Start simple. The next time you’re asked for your mobile number, say NO. You’ll be surprised how liberating it can feel.
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