When the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the right to privacy is a fundamental right, we cheered and hailed it. And it must be hailed. This will affect change in areas which need it the most. The right to privacy is intrinsic to the right to life, the court further added. Couldn’t be closer to the truth and yet one is left wondering if we truly value our privacy. Hell, do we even want our lives to be private anymore?

One look at a social media account is all it takes to know what an individual eats for breakfast, lunch, dinner and in between, where he/she chooses to party/vacation

The Internet, namely social media has redefined privacy, as we know it. Today it is wholly possible to map out an individuals life with what’s posted online, by that very person. Not need for super sleuths, who by the way must be desperately looking for alternate professions! People post everything online. Yes everything is out there.

One look at a social media account is all it takes to know what an individual eats for breakfast, lunch, dinner and in between, where he/she chooses to party/vacation, the latest big ticket purchases, dating habits (changing relationship status displays), medical history, addictions, emotional and psychological frame of mind and in many cases sexual preferences as well. And this is just the stuff that single people share. Married people with kids are a tad bit more worrisome..the worldwide web knows what their children look like, where they go for piano/ballet classes and when they are left unsupervised because the parents are away on commitments. Worse still, a lot of this information is shared real-time. Besides the hotly debated biometric data (which we are forced to part with for most visas, and the Aadhar card as well), most else is voluntarily shared. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

most of us are inadvertently violating our own privacy without much thought given to the ramifications if this enormous amount of private data

Privacy as far as the dictionary goes ‘is a state in which one is not observed’ and the right to privacy includes among other things, ‘freedom from damaging publicity, secret surveillance, or unauthorized disclosure of one’s personal data or information’.

Fact is, most of us are inadvertently violating our own privacy without much thought given to the ramifications if this enormous amount of private data (which organizations are collecting from our online feeds on a daily basis) were to fall in the wrong hands. To say it’s alarming would be an absolute euphemism. Cyber crime cells have sprouted for far many more reasons than just online financial frauds.

It’s a whole different matter that we have violated the privacy of others as well, case in point being the picture of a barely clad terminally sick actor which went viral on social media just days before he passed away. Women being molested, men being lynched, people dying on roads and other unspeakable tragedies have all been shared because we are ‘horrified’ by it. When did we cross the line that separates empathy from callousness? And that’s not even a fine line! That’s a mammoth water hazard (if you play golf) and many of us have crossed it with immense flair and little thought.

A debate on the Right to privacy and all that it must include is an important one but what is equally imperative is to understand and respect one’s own privacy. And we are all guilty of it.

The writer is a filmmaker based in Mumbai and has also written ‘Dancing with Demons’, India’s first boxing drama novel published by Harper Collins

Views are author’s own