Educate users about online security: Parliamentary Panel to IT companies

A parliamentary panel examining the issue of citizens’ data security and privacy said the police must be trained and equipped to tackle growing cyber threats.

A parliamentary panel examining the issue of data security on Thursday insisted that IT companies have a social obligation to educate users about online security and privacy since they are accessing their data.

Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology chaired by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Anurag Thakur asked the representatives of the Ministry of Home Affairs, “don’t IT companies have a social obligation to educate users about online security and privacy since it is their data being accessed?”

In the panel’s last meeting on April 19, Thakur had asked the Ministry of Information and Technology to seek a written commitment from social networking sites, including Facebook, that these online platforms will not misuse the data for political or other purposes.

Panel members examining the issue of citizens’ data security and privacy also said that the police must be trained and equipped to tackle growing cyber threats.

Thakur said that there is an urgent need to undertake more awareness programmes at a time when there is a push for digital India at the initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Thakur has also sought suggestions from stakeholders on the issue. The panel told the officials during the meeting that tech giants need to simplify ‘Terms of Use’ and ‘Privacy Policy’ to make it transparent for the end user.

There was a general concern that since users do not have the time nor the technical understanding to go through multiple pages of technical jargon, they are gullible to data harvest.

The panel also expressed concern regarding India’s preparation to deal with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Thakur is learnt to have said in the meeting that India’s ICT ecosystem should not be adversely affected while dealing with GDPR.

In the last meeting, Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary for Electronics and IT, had appeared before the panel.

The meetings has come amidst a huge political controversy over an exposé that data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica mined a whopping 50 million profiles from the social networking site to plan campaigns for 2016 US elections and Brexit referendum and same firm’s Indian arm mined data from Facebook for use to influence elections here.

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Educate users about online security: Parliamentary Panel to IT companies

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