Tag: on-line privacy

YouTube, YouTubers and violation of privacy of women and children: The drama unfolds


In recent years YouTube has won millions of hearts in India as a social media platform especially among women. This is because unlike other social media websites, YouTube has provided a platform to earn money based upon views and subscribers. Contents uploaded by users may be varied: it can be home decor, power point presentations of simplified versions of undergraduate subjects, subject lectures by professional teachers or amateur subject experts, cooking recipes, Do It Yourself (DIYs), home organisations, daily routines of home makers, technological solutions, how to do stuffs etc . Several women have used YouTube to earn money generated through the revenue that YouTube promises once the user can reach some criteria like getting 1000 subscribers or 4000 watch hours etc. [1]YouTube however would not lead the user to create contents that may earn more watch hours or subscribers. Users may go for market survey to understand which sorts of videos may attract more views, ,more subscribers etc. mostly new users including men and women may try to create videos on anything that they feel proper to share to the world. YouGTube , like Facebook and Instagram has features for allowing users to create videos for private sharing. This enables the users to share the video which may be watched only by those whom the creator chooses. The users may however go for wide circulation of their contents by not only making the videos public, but also by going live  whereby the users may directly communicate with their subscribers or may share information while live.  Even though going Live may be a feature specifically for improving the relationship between the user and his/her subscribers, live videos can be watched by the world wide audience even if they are not subscribers to that particular user.   Here, YouTube may not play a vital role to restrict uploading and sharing the contents unless the subscribers or  viewers may flag the content as inappropriate.  In short, YouTube may actually provide a wide platform to share anything including bullying videos, mashed up videos, child and woman abuse videos, birthing videos, adult sexual interaction videos and so on. While the adult sexual videos and birthing videos may not be universally accessible unless the user logs in to his/her YouTube accounts, other sorts of videos are accessible to all irrespective of age. YouTube however uses the due diligence clause to escape from any third party liability by providing notification which restricts children from viewing adult sexual contents or violent contents which may traumatise children. Hardly this  has any practical implication because children may access these videos by using email ids which may be created on the basis of fake age , or may even log in through their parents’ or friends’ email /YouTube ids.
My attention here is however attracted to the contents shared by YouTubers: I have been an avid watcher of YouTube since many years now. I have been following the changing trends of users in uploading the contents. Earlier it was more on creating mashed up videos which may have the potentials of violating the copyrights. Such videos have also been silently encouraged by actors, singers and producers because these actually publicize their work even though it may violate the laws. [2]But slowly, the content creators, especially women started becoming reviewers of products on YouTube as well. This included using of cosmetics, kitchen wares organisers etc that may be shown in the daily routine videos, home organisation videos or make up tutorials.[3]  Users not only get views and subscribers as may be needed for fulfilling the YouTube monetising criteria, they may also be connected with the brands manufacturing the products or dealers of the products who may wish to showcase their products through these non-professional videos. Several urban and rural women home makers have actually benefitted from this: consider Youtubers like Radhika Real Vlogs,[4]or simplelivingwithringlejain[5]who may be rural homemakers, but may have made a moderate to comfortable living because of their YouTube videos advertising about different brands including retailer brands.  Nonetheless, these YouTubers may also be victims of bullying and trolling for the quality of their videos, their pronunciation, lifestyle and even house decorations.
While these women may have made a landmark professional/personal achievement because of YouTube, they may unknowingly violate privacy of their own children or even spouses or other family members as they may be showing and informing the worldwide audience about their family members who may not may consent for such wide distribution of images of themselves. These YouTube videos may also be the subject matter of bullying and ridiculing the children of such YouTubers since these may stay on worldwide web for long time. YouTube videos may also create severe domestic violence for several reasons which include live fights between spouses which may be captured by third party YouTubers for fun and uploaded and circulated for getting more views; or airing of grievances by women YouTubers against the other spouses, without knowing the far-reaching consequences etc. These videos may attract huge views and opinions, comments in the nature of cyber bullying and also trolling targeting the YouTuber concerned or supporters of the same. Consider the case of two specific Youtubers from Delhi, who are spouses in real life : the wife is a senior YouTuber whereas the husband is a recent Youtuber: They had severe altercations and started living apart. But this was not enough: both used YouTube to throw insults and humiliating words to each other and their teen daughter was allegedly dragged in between. The recent reports suggested that the teenager girl who  was staying with her father for couple of months after the separation, was beaten by the latter while on live and her t-shirt was torn in a manner which would show her inner wares.[6]The girl was beaten because she wanted to visit her mother. This video became viral as several supporters of the wife started showing the clippings through their own channels. Some had also informed ChildLine and the police who had rescued the teenager and sent her to her maternal grandmother.[7] There are several other YouTubers who started discussing about incident using the profile name of the husband wife duo.[8]While the news report published in the local news media suggested that the teenager was often beaten by both the parents when they were drunk and she was forced to come on live which she refused many times, the news clipping did not mention about the name of the girl and that of her parents as S.21 of the Juvenile Justice Care and protection Act, 2015 prohibits publication of the identity of the child in need of care and protection or child in conflict with law. The provision reads as below:
S.21. Prohibition of publication of name, etc., of juvenile in conflict with law or child in need of care and protection involved in any proceeding under the Act.-1. No report in any newspaper, magazine, news-sheet or visual media of any inquiry regarding a juvenile in conflict with law or a child in need of care and protection under this Act shall disclose the name, address or school or any other particulars calculated to lead to the identification of the juvenile or child nor shall any picture of any such juvenile or child be published: Provided that for reasons to be recorded in writing, the authority holding the inquiry may permit such disclosure, if in its opinion such disclosure is in the interest of the juvenile or the child. 2. Any person who contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1), shall be liable to a penalty which may extend to twenty-five thousand rupees.
Now, let us understand the scope of this provision in the light of this particular case: the first subsection prohibits any report including news report, inquiry etc from disclosing the name, information etc of the concerned child. The second proviso extends the scope to ‘anyone’ who may contravene the prohibitory scope of S.21. Seen from the perspective of electronic media and the concept of citizen journalism, which gives every one right to share information, the term ‘anyone’ may literally include anyone including the good Samaritans who may have wanted to alert the concerned authorities, share their opinion against such acts of women and child abuse. Further, note the words “any other particulars calculated to lead to the identification of the juvenile or child nor shall any picture of any such juvenile or child be published” mentioned in the first sub clause. This may include the name of the concerned child and names of the parents. But apparently, this provision became a just a paper tiger in this case because those who had watched or subscribed to the videos of the couple had already known about the identity of the teenager because of the daily Lives put up by the parents and discussion about the girl in the videos posted by them. If one visits the comment section of the recent videos of both the parents in the recent past, it would be seen that commenters have taken the name of the girl, asked about her whereabouts and in some cases, some had also suggested about her changed behaviour after she had stayed with her respective parents separately. Nothing is confidential for those thousands of worldwide audiences now who had watched the parents daily and who had also witnessed the Live video where the girl was beaten up by the father.  In spite of repeated request by the mother of the girl, several YouTubers still did not take down videos mentioning about the name of the father (which broadly falls within the meaning of “any other particulars calculated to lead to the identification of the juvenile or child”) when this writeup was published. While the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection and Act provides a base rule, the concerned YouTubers may not be held solely responsible because the parents already violated the privacy of the teenager and encouraged thousands to watch the couple fight which had every potential to attract penal provisions for using words etc for harming the modesty of the wife under S.509 Indian Penal Code as well as defamation of both the wife and the husband under Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code. YouTube on the other hand has not taken down the videos of either of the spouses or that of the other YouTubers  which may showcase the names of the parents and the child because it is guided by First Amendment of the US which may hardly be affected unless YouTube has been approached to take the videos down by concerned stakeholders.  
It is now a typical love triangle of three parties : YouTube, which is loved by all for providing such an open platform for airing opinions and consumption of real life family dramas, the YouTubers who may expect to get support, views, popularity and money because of participating in the trolling and independent discussions on such issues which may rip open privacy of general individuals including children and criminal justice machinery, most of whom may never know how to manage legalities of YouTube videos because they are completely ignorant of this new type of electronic media.  
But this is not a unique incident that attracts the attention of legal researchers, especially privacy law and speech law researchers. YouTubers, especially women YouTubers continue to violate privacy knowingly or unknowingly and provide more opportunity to trolls, bullies and offline perpetrators to victimise them because they may not be aware about the netiquettes of YouTube. Time has come that YouTube users become cautious of the contents uploaded by them and legalities attached with such uploading and sharing. In this festive season YouTube content uploading and sharing may have seen a steep rise. But it is upon YouTubers to control what must be shared and may not.
YouTube is more powerful than televisions, more demanded than movies and more devastating than what is generally apprehended.
Please note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use information provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2019), \” YouTube, YouTubers and violation of privacy of women and children: The drama unfolds” Published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.comon 28-10-2019

[2] For example see Halder D., & Jaishankar K. (2016) Celebrities and Cyber Crimes: An Analysis of the Victimization of Female Film Stars on the Internet. Temida – The journal on victimization, human rights and gender. 19(3-4), 355-372
[7] See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNG3lousHu4&t=167swhere the Youtuber had informed that she called the police to report the video and provided the link of the media report of the incident.

Public Tweets, privacy and necessity to be private in public eyes


When  the Bengali cinema lovers just woke up from the first shock of the death of the legendary actress Suchitra Sen, came the news of the death of Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor, better known to many as the wife of Dr. Shashi Tharoor, the extremely noticeable union minister of India. People were in awe of Suchitra Sen even when she was lying in Keoratola crematorium ground waiting to be cremated by her daughter. The main reason: she was an extremely personal lady and unlike many of her contemporaries, she neither appeared in public for more than twenty something years, nor did she encourage anyone to know more about her through the electronic media. She was not present in either Facebook or Twitter and no one knew how she looked like after she appeared in her last cinema. We, the generation who grew up watching  Big Bs getting older looks and new actors like Shah Rukh Khan and his contemporaries taking the stage from the older generation, hardly watched any Bengali cinema during the late 80’s or 90’s until Rituporno Ghosh brought back the magic of commercial Bengali cinema back to us in late 90’s and early 2000s. We, like our parents and grandparents, wanted to see Suchitra Sen and be in touch with her, but in vain. Internet and social media never appealed to her to get reconnected with her fans. But when she died on 17th January,2013 Facebook and Twitter were swept over by comments, condolences and pictures of her. I even came across “Suchitra Sen hot” key words in Google even though the images showed her two granddaughters who are also actors and not her in any such ‘hot scene’. Photographs of her exhausted and distressed daughter and mourning granddaughters in the crematorium were shared by many electronic news channels and these were hot favourite in the net on the day until suddenly the private lady was eclipsed by another very much public figure Sunanda.
          I loved watching Shashi and Sunanda’s photographs over the internet like million others. They were very much ‘public’ and I was one of Shashi Tharoor’s 2,050,605   followers in Twitter. Occasionally I used to  reTweet his very informative Tweets and like many others I took deep interest in  reading the family drama involving his ‘hacked Twitter account’, his wife and a Pakistani journalist( see http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/tharoor-makes-statement-about-marriage-after-wife-sunanda-s-twitter-outburst/article1-1173465.aspx) . I like million others, took him to be a public icon who should be ‘followed’, ‘watched’, talked about and criticised for his views. I obviously was not following Sunanda and I am sure, like me, there are many who started scrutinising her tweets for the first time when Shashi Tharoor gave a joint statement with her  regarding their marriage and  news channels started increasing their TRPs by publicising this. Interestingly, it was not Shashi Tharoor’s tweets which drew attention, it was Sunanda’s ones. Simultaneously, the Pakistani journalist involved therein  probably received millions of visitors for her tweets within a few hours as well. Some of Sunanda’s tweets and Pakistani journalist’s tweets did definitely provide a chain of blame game centring ‘a husband’ and  two women’s relationships with him. I instantly wondered how one can become so much public about one’s assumptions regarding personal relations. This incidence is not an example of bullying; I have seen many instances of death caused by Facebook bullying which were public and the death was caused mainly by the emotional stress the victim went through after realising what the audience (who are watching the bullying communication) would think about him/her. But this is definitely a very bold example of right to express oneself publicly and what could be the consequence in real life. Many academic researches on online victimisation have shown how a particular communication, seeing an unwanted image or even constantly thinking of the issue take a toll on the health of the victim. This may have played an important role in her ‘unnatural’ death along with other factors as are now being revealed by the police, doctors and also by the media. But the question is, does one really need to be this much public in the social media in certain cases even if he/she is a public figure?  Both Sunanda and the Pakistani journalist had pulled in lots of issues in their respective tweets and indeed the diplomatic relation of the two countries is also involved now. This is one brilliant example as how an issue which should have been a private affair, can draw more than desired attention because of the ‘public nature’ of  it. Some may say they are public figures and they should be transparent. But is this much transparency wanted especially when it has resulted in a death? Apart from personal Tweets, the investigation have  also started analysing  CCTV footage, personal text messages , emails that have been exchanged within all three of them. But as the criminal procedures and constitutional rights guarantee, some of such evidences would never be published respecting the right to privacy of the people involved. The ‘public Tweets’ may remain forever giving a sad example as how desire to remain in public eyes through publicly expressing personal thoughts may create an unwanted image which may never be broken and which can become chosen item for trolls for jeopardizing the situation more.
          India is undergoing a tremendous change in legal procedural codes in respect to media reports ( including reports, status updates or tweets by civil society members) of the crimes, privacy of the victim as well as the accused with the case of sexual harassment of law interns by judges. The transition may take our privacy law understandings to new heights which may have positive as well as negative implications. This case of Sunanda Tharoor may remotely add some contribution to the ongoing transition if and when the prosecution starts throwing light on the publicly expressed private comments in the social media and the ‘sharing’ of these by other fellow Tweet-handles. Nonetheless, this would remain an example as where to draw a limit line of privacy in the social media when one is very much public.
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),Public tweets, privacy and necessity to be private in public eyes19th January,2014, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/

Whose photo is it when you have a “cover photo” ?


Every year October brings in nice surprises: the weather changes, festive season starts and women feel more encouraged to stay fit to look good during the festive season. This enthusiasm makes one eager to do lots of outdoor activities and showcase the same in their social media profile cover pictures or profile pictures which would gradually become an identification mark for the profile owner; for example, I got to see beautiful nature photography, painting exhibitions, festive photos in numerous Facebook profiles, which were further shared by other specialised social media profiles meant exclusively for photography or for online painting exhibitions.  Nonetheless, these pictures may include human faces including the profile owners in their finest attires. Needless to say, cover photos or profile photos do provide a glimpse of what the user wishes to showcase to the world; I myself made a cover photo for myself which has my convocation photograph where I was receiving my Ph.d Degree from the hands of the Hon’ble Chief justice of India.   Well, this is the age of “sharing and viewing” and those who have social media profiles should expect minimum privacy when it comes to sharing their lives with their virtual friends. But does that mean that when the social media platform does not guarantee any privacy, our pictures or contents really become public properties?  Even though there are many research papers and works are available on this issue, I thought to contribute my own thought as well.
         As we all know, any social media is duty bound to provide privacy rights to the users. But at the same time, no service provider would actually allow a user to lock everything for him/herself. This defies the ultimate purpose of the social media, i.e. to connect and reconnect people. Hence every user is given options to choose privacy set-ups that a social media channel can offer. This includes self exposure, exposure of friends and exposure of others (who are not listed as ‘friends’ of the profile owner) through one user in various levels.   The most sensitive part of such exposure is definitely the photographs. When a user uploads a picture (whether a nature photography or a picture containing human images), to his social media profile, it is generally expected that he owns the photograph; very technically, he has copyright over it; but not always! There are numerous instances of ‘possessing’ over other’s photograph and using as well as misusing it through one’s social media profile. I myself got to see many such cases which unfortunately involved creation of “Fake Avatars”  (See Halder Debarati,Examining the Scope of IndecentRepresentation of Women (Prevention) Act, 1986 in the Light ofCyberVictimization of Women in India (May25, 2013). National Law School Journal,Vol. 11, 2013, pp. 188-218 . Availableat SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2270061) of women with ‘possessed’ pictures. But there are instances when photos of profile owners have been ‘stolen’ and showcased in other’s profiles and such photo possessing does not actually intend to harm the reputation of the actual photo owner. This happens especially when the photograph is exhibited in open access platforms like the ‘cover photo’ of Facebook, or photo albums made intentionally open for public in either Facebook or Twitter.
 It needs to be understood that social media impliedly enters into a contract where it becomes duty bound to respect a user’s copy right. This is evident from not only the Terms that any social media asks a user to go through, but also from  the report option where you would get to see a small note at the bottom “is this your intellectual property”?  In India such sorts of mischievous activities are mostly regulated by the Copy Right Act, 1957 (which has been further amended in 2012). But usage of this law for social media photo right infringement is extremely rare. The reason could be that this Act is mostly used when the intellectual property infringement involves loss of profit.  However, I have seen many people get confused as to whether they can really claim their intellectual property right when the picture is showcased in open access platforms of social media and it had been ‘stolen’. I ask ‘why not’?  But I am very much aware that to prove a claim, a victim may have to run out of her patience especially when the social media itself may ask for the proof to show that the photograph was originally owned by the victim. But still then, it may prove worth fighting for and sharing the experience  as this will actually benefit not only the intellectual property researchers, but netizens in general.

Do let me know your views.
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. (2013), “Whose photo is it When you have a “cover photo” ?
, 25thOctober,2013, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/

Too much exposed too less to expect


When an individual gets a virtual  home through his/her profile in the social networking sites it is most expected that he/she will open the windows to showcase his/her own self. While this can be an extremely positive gesture to let people know about oneself and market oneself to be one of the potentials, this can be extremely dangerous as well. As the US report on the internet and computing trend suggests, Indians are the second largest sharers of personal information after Saudi Arabians( See http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/social-media/Indians-second-most-likely-to-share-everything-online-Study/articleshow/20376051.cms), I partly justify it with my own observations in the internet. Many women in India tend to reveal personal information in online pockets including social networking sites, groups, news forums etc. I was one such exposure when I first entered this big (bad) World Wide Web. The typical ways may include revealing residential address, phone numbers, school names, pet names to even secret bashes. Not to mention, the regular updates themselves may make private life revealed for many women. I had this chat friend couple of year’s back, who insisted to know what I eat in the breakfast, what I wear for formal gatherings and why do I wear them. Slowly, I understood that I was feeding this particular individual more than what is needed. Well, I had sensed danger. But not many can really sense it. At the best, many women protect their information by making their profiles open for ‘friends’. But what these women may not understand is, these ‘friends’ are neither ‘anti-chambers’ from where information can not be leaked.
        Similarly, this sharing tendency can prove beneficial for online phishing teams who can easily track out the potential victim. It needs to be remembered that women are equally becoming victims of phishing as men and may be this may be one of the reasons. Off course, how can one forget about other typical online crimes which happen mostly to women like stalking, creation of defamatory profiles etc ? All of these may be results of too much sharing.
        But then what can be the solution? While opening the windows, you can not close your doors and expect the ‘unwanted’ to show up any-time. Only thing is, you need to be prepared to face the unwanted and learn from your mistakes. I have some wonderful friends who had learnt from their past experiences due to too much sharing; some have stopped frequent updating, some preferred to maintain offline connections than carrying on virtual connections. What I have learnt from them is, the more you expose yourself, the less you should expect from privacy shields; for nothing can protect your privacy when you yourself have opened doors to let the world know what they should not have known about you.
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. (2013), “Too much exposed too less to expect
, 5thJune,2013, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/