Pitfalls of privacy online

The Ceylon Today newspaper quotes me in what is becoming a familiar story – identity theft and the unauthorised use of photos posted to various online social media fora for nefarious activities. Women and Media Collective‘s Sepali Kottegoda underscores the problem, yet the challenge remains on how to build and teach this (new) media literacy to parents, young adults and children.

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Editor of Groundviews, Sanjana Haththotuwa (sic) commented on the issue, bringing into focus the shortcomings of online privacy. “You can at best get Facebook to shut the page down, but in seconds, another can take its place. And if Facebook then bans the user account that created the pages, another can be created. Using the new account, another new page can be created. If Facebook shuts down all such pages on Facebook itself, a group similar to it can be created, in seconds, on another social media platform. The real problem here is the lack of awareness about privacy online, and in online social media forums in particular.”

“Instances such as these are very much a part of what is known as internet violence against women,” Head of Women and Media Collective, Sepali Kottegoda said. “The focus on school children in Sri Lanka is extremely worrying. We have to look into the aspects of internet security and if the country decides to ban such sites, we need to have a set of clear guidelines that can be used in the human rights framework for women. These incidents go beyond presentation and unauthorized use of content. It is a serious violation against women and girls, and it can be considered a form of sexual abuse if intended in such a way. The lack of knowledge on online privacy needs to be addressed. It’s the kind of technical training both kids and adults need.”

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