How the Government Is Spying On You?


What Is Data?

Data are units of information, often numeric, that are collected through observation. It can be our:

- names

- family names

- mobile number, email address

- bank account details

- and other common data

Other than that, we have other data’s too like our location, where do we eat food, maternal status, what government schemes do we use, our income group and like that there are so many data of ours that define us and our personality. So, the government can access these data and I am going to tell you how they use it.

How Do they Get Access to these Data?

The biggest reason for the retrieval of our data is through our mobile applications. Whenever we login in a mobile app that’s obvious that they ask for our mobile number and email but sometimes they also ask us if we allow the application to use our location services whether we are using that app or not. In a way they are stalking and snooping us that where do we go and where do we live.

Similarly, many applications ask us for the access of our contacts and even our camera, and since we download these applications in a hurry so we allow these apps to retrieve our data.

Whether we use iOS or androids our phone also has our data regarding our location, the applications we are using and if we are using public WIFI then we are giving our data to the public system and that’s why it is said that whenever we are doing any important work like banking and other stuff then we shouldn’t be doing it through a public WIFI.

Sometimes we participate in many applications and surveys through which our data is retrieved by many companies. Sometimes our data is also given in the hands of insurance company, mobile service etc. so there are many data brokers and hackers who retrieve these data and sell it as a result we get so many unknown messages and promotions because of sharing our data which are acquired from these companies.

How the Government Use Our Data?

Now, we are going to talk about what the government do of our data and how they use it as there are millions of people in our country so what are they going to do by using this data. They collect our data points, they use this data to form our psychographic profile which includes:

- our name

- where do we eat

- our email address

- what political party do we prefer

- do we prefer comedy

- what type of movies do we watch

- what music do we listen to and many more

These data points are collected and are used to make our psychographic profile, it is also called data mining as they apply different algorithms and process our data (some are highly processed and some are sub processed) to make a big data which result in our psychographic profile. These data are also used in election campaigns as they see that what we like and what we don’t and that’s how those customized messages are shown to us on our social media.

Suppose if we like comedy so we will be shown comic memes on our social media, if we believe on a particular issue and we like the posts related to it then our social media will show us posts related to that particular issue. So, we will be manipulated or brain washed by these posts to vote in the favor of a particular political party.

For example, there is a term called retargeting which means if a person is looking for some product on google and he doesn’t buy it at first then the google will show the advertisements of it on its various websites and many times it leads on making that person buy that product. We also see many examples of these in our daily life as whenever we see a product that product is shown to us by google through advertisements, so this process is called retargeting.

The political parties are so customized and sophisticated that these data are filtered in such a way which results on making of a new category called highly persuadable by which they get to know that how many of the citizens are uncertain of voting any of the political party as they are not in the favor of any of them, and this is how they show us so many messages and posts which convince us to vote in the favor of a particular political party.

Sometimes, they apply so much sophisticated algorithms that they convert our surnames automatically to our castes and then send us caste-based messages because the citizens of our country are very much active on social media and they send so many messages on these that it’s not easy for the election commission to apply the election commission moral code of conduct on these messages because they are in numerous numbers that it becomes hard for them to filter it.

So, we can assume how we get manipulated by these advertisements, in fact it is possible that in the coming times WhatsApp will also start showing us advertisements like other social medias. Already WhatsApp forwards many fake news to its users and this is why it became a huge issue for them as it can lead to intruding of our privacy. So, if they will show us such an intrusive and manipulative content then the elections will not be fair, and I am not only talking about India but the whole world.

Data Collected by Different Companies and Applications:

In 2013, Edward Snowden’s controversy became very popular as he revealed the dirty secrets of National Investigation Agency and that’s why he is also called whistle blower. He leaked that how the NIA is collecting the data of the citizens of united states of America and making a psychographic profile out of it.

Now most of the countries say that these data are used by them so that they can stop all the illegal activities like terrorism and border infiltrations and if we see it practically then this is data is used only by the government for these purposes and its right in a way but if we look through other perspective then this data can also be used for negative purposes. Cambridge Analytica was a British registered company which was using 50 million Facebook data as a political consultant.

It is said that Indian national congress also took their services and put allegations on the BJP application called NAMO that it collects the data of its citizens. Sevamitra app by TDP was caught having 70 lakhs people Aadhar card details.

In 2015, many questions were also raised against Aadhar card that all the data that is collected through the Aadhar card is given in the hands of the government which is leading to the intrusion of our privacy. Government said that privacy is not a constitutional right but supreme court upheld this by saying that privacy is a constitutional right but they also made a statement that Aadhar card is not dangerous regarding to people’s privacy. Spotify which is a music application can also tell the economic conditions of a country just by its data.

So, we can assume by ourselves that in the aspect of data the world is achieving so much. Data is considered as the most important currency. Until and unless the government doesn’t apply any laws and legislations, we can’t do anything about it but we can be careful from our side while using our internet services and sharing our data.

Written by - Sharmistha Pratap

Edited by - Gunika Manchanda

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