Older generation and the risks in the digital era

CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DEBARATI HALDER

Summer vacation has started and all are heading towards numerous destinations, majority heading towards ancestral homes. Since the easy availability of tablets, ipads and smart phones  ( well, not to speak about the laptops which are now considered as the older generation in  digital gadgets), many children insist carrying them to their grandparents places to fight ‘boredom’ , to take selfies in so called ‘exotic’ locations ( well, I got to see children calling a village temple tank as an ‘exotic location’ too) and to instantly put the family pictures in the instagram, Facebook  etc by various ways including whatsapp. Some parents and grandparents feel extremely proud to exhibit their children’s skill in digital technology; some feel children are getting addicted to the digital gadgets and thereby they should be given company in using the gadgets. While parents may make a horrible company in some cases due to their excessive interest in the digital day to day affair of the children, grand parents can make excellent companions, especially when the child understands that the grandparent is completely unaware of the digital tricks and can never play a detective’s role to pierce the privacy of the child. So what happens when an old man joins his young grandchild in exploring and contributing to the new digital communication systems?  Here are some examples:
Ø Taking random pictures of the household things, members of the family ( even if they are not ready to face the camera) and storing them digitally;
Ø Putting them in the social media without knowing what could be the consequence.
Ø Exploring parent’s social media profiles with the grandparent by his/her side (especially when the child knows the password of the parent’s social media profiles) and thereby giving repeated shocks to the old heads.
Ø In course of teaching the grandparent some tricks, the child may start sending friends’ request to strangers, make profiles of the grand parent’s friends without permission, start ‘liking’ numerous posts and share stuffs which may be dangerous both for the adult as well as the children.
Ø Downloading private pictures from other’s profiles and storing them in the gadget (well, it is a ‘fun’ to teach the grandparent how to download pictures).

And why we, net immigrants should be bothered by these habits of net natives ( the children) or the net aliens ( the older generation)?  Well, i have more than one reason to be worried. I got to see the tablet of one such grand parent who had stored my own photo without my knowledge. I am not ‘friend’ to him. Neither he has any profile in any social media. But one of his children is in my husband’s Facebook friend’s list. The tablet consists many more interesting pictures: a lady with face pack sitting awkwardly in her night gown, some naked children ready to jump  in the bathtub and so on….. none of these pictures were taken from proper angles and they looked amateur. When I confronted the owner of the tablet regarding this, he was more than shocked. He instantly asked his children( both under 12 years of age) who proudly told it was none other than their grandfather who became a ‘good student’ of their digital technology class, who had taken these pictures and downloaded many other. After the initial shock, came the time to laugh away the matter. But it was not the matter to laugh away. It needs to be understood that even though a digital gadget may belong to a particular person, it can be misused by numerous persons who may get a chance to handle it according to their own wishes. If it is misused, it can give birth to various issues including identity theft, sending of anonymous offensive communication and not to mention, unauthorisedly storing other’s private data including images and voyeurism (which this grandfather-grandchild duo unknowingly did ). The laws regarding the safe digital communication, safer internet and safety of women and children are developing in India and one thing which every one must note is, any offence done by any digital gadget can first and fore mostly make the owner the gadget primarily liable if he has not established his innocence in such cases by lodging complaints of missing of the gadget or the theft of the gadget or the unauthorised usage of his digital data (including social media profiles). Laws relating to identity theft, sending of anonymous offensive, unauthorisedly storing other’s private data including images and voyeurism etc, are strict when it comes to the gender of the victim as well as the offender. The new Criminal Law amendment Act, 2013 has made several of such offences punishable especially when the victim is a woman. Not to mention about the Protection of the children from sexual offences Act, 2012 (POCSO), which has laid down stricter laws to prevent any sort of exploitation of children, whether physically or digitally. While the 2013 Act targets male  offenders largely for several digital crimes, information technology act as well as the POCSO Act holistically apply to ‘all’. The child offenders are neither spared from punishments, including correctional punishments or fines, irrespective of the fact whether they knowingly or unknowingly do the mistake. Nonetheless, the owner of the gadget becomes vicariously liable in such cases and his/her journey through the whole legal procedure may neither be a cake walk.
Hence be careful. Teach the older generation how to use the gadget as well as the digital data just in the way children are to be taught. Do not make the innocents fall victims of new technologies.
Happy holidays
Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2014), “Older generation and the risks in the digital era
”, 24th April, 2014  Published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/

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