Terms and conditions may apply

Last night I was looking for something interesting to watch- nothing dark though and I came across this documentary on Netflix. 
Wow!!! This is going to sound very ironical- this documentary is about our right to privacy and am the least private person on this planet. Or am I? 

This piece has been directed by Cullen Hoback who was crazy enough to go to Mark Zuckerberg's house, film him, pretend to turn off the camera and then film him- just like he does to all of us. 

It starts with asking people if they have read the terms and conditions on any website. We all agree to terms and conditions before we can sign up on any website- facebook. twitter, google, itunes, apple store etc etc and yet nobody has ever read them. And yet, I always read the terms of the rent agreement or job agreement or any other agreement. Why not this one? 
For 3 reasons:
- It is tedious and I won't understand half of it
- I cannot change it. Will I refuse to sign up on a website because a term rankles me? No. 
- There is no guarantee the terms will not change after a few months with or without my knowledge

The documentary covers how the USA government spies on its citizens. Even in India, it happens. There are enough cases of Shiv Sena getting people arrested for posting anti-Shiv Sena tweets/posts. The recent ruling of SC has been quite a relief in this regard. 

Our digital data (which cannot be erased once it is out there even when we delete accounts) is being sold to advertising agencies. We all know that facebook is following us everywhere. How else do I see ads for the exact same product on facebook that I have checked out on a shopping site? It is scary. I hate ads. Ads are why am online. Youtube's ad blocker has been a major relief, I use unofficial twitter apps to avoid the sponsored ads and get my news online so I don't have to open the newspaper and read more ads. The digital space is where I don't want these ads to follow me. 

The documentary tries to locate a person who has made searches like "how to kill your wife", "decapitated body pictures" and more such gross stuff. Guess who he turns out to be? A writer on a crime TV show. Imagine getting arrested or judged for what you search online. Online is where the boundaries of right and wrong change. Is trolling someone wrong in real life? Yep, it is called harassment. Online? Nope, it is something to be proud of. I was fighting with someone on facebook last night because I was bored and couldn't find something to watch online. Would I have done that in real life? Not in a million years. We say stuff we don't really mean online. Or maybe we say stuff we actually mean, online. Same thing. 

These days nothing is really private. As soon as I buy a new number, I start receiving promotional messages or calls even though am on DOT's "Do not disturb" list. Threatening to sue and screaming at the caller helps. But how does my phone number get there? This happens even before I have updated it online. It is obvious telecom companies are selling our data. 

There is no privacy and yet, there should be. I should decide how much you know about me and how that data is used. In India, we are still miles away from what happens in the USA. Our internet penetration is low and people don't use social media apart from facebook. Which is good. Our employers are not going through our blogs, facebook, instagram, twitter accounts before recruiting us or promoting us. Not yet, anyway. But with facebook and google, that is bound to change... it is already changing. 

I find it hilarious when someone calls a company "ethical". No company on this planet is "ethical"- whether it is Indian or MNC or even a start up. The objective is to make money and make profits. Money and ethics don't go together. They just don't. It is as simple as that. Google is here to make money and advertising is a big source of income for them. You may admire the organization, they may write books and books about what a great organization they are but they are selling our data for money. 

This documentary is a MUST watch.


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