Hyderabad: Digital and human rights activist S.Q Masood said surveillance ecosystem has a potential pitfall of transforming into a full-fledged surveillance society. Sharing his experiences on the ground, he described cordon and search and the random photo clicks by the police as increasing instances of surveillance. He was speaking at a discussion organised by the Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) on data privacy and digital presence in Hyderabad on Monday.
Further, Mr. Masood said the poor and the marginalised are facing the brunt of this digital surveillance. He raised alarms about linking various databases and their potential threat. He cited the deletion of ration cards of nearly 19 lakhs, hailed as a success, which was processed without human oversight and proceeded algorithmically and which resulted in exclusion.
Srinivas Kodali, another tech activist from the city, shed light on the development of digital Telangana and the inherent pitfalls of blindly following a particular model of governance. He expounded on the economics and politics behind Aadhar and other digital initiatives. He hailed the Puttaswamy judgment as ensuring privacy as a fundamental right. He urged the citizens to be vigilant and aware while navigating through this complex terrain.
Kidiyoor Nihal, national secretary of SIO, emphasised that technology is fundamentally shifting the balance of power between state and citizens. This should be the central point of discussion. He further said technology is also catalyzing a crisis of attention in society which has deeper manifestation. He concluded there is an urgent need for more such conversations for envisioning an egalitarian society under the challenges posed by the technological paradigm.