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Privacy and data security critical as India moves to cashless economy

Cyber attacks have become increasingly difficult to curb and the focus needs to also be on formulating digital privacy and data security, control over user data, conditional access to data indicating user behaviour etc.

Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo mail, data breach, Gmail hack, data security, tech news, technologyThe government’s recent decision of demonetisation of old high denomination currency notes has come with a push for cashless economy. The transition from cash-based transactions to digital payments as a preferred alternative will take a mammoth effort for it to materialise. The most important aspect of this digital push is to make sure that user data is made more secure and privacy is guaranteed to everyone who goes online.

Even as the ecosystem for digital payments is being developed simultaneously, several concerns have popped up in recent times over the security of our banking infrastructure. It is evident that cyber attackers are adopting more elegant ways to attack banks, intermediaries, merchants and other companies that hold vital user data, some of it which can be misused for identity theft, monetary theft and other illicit ends.

Speaking to, entrepreneur and Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka, Rajeev Chandrasekhar stressed the need to make digital payment platforms and information more secure. “In India, change always happens in an abrupt manner. We must transition to the digital payments platform and also digital payments as part of our economic model. But don’t forget that there are many things that need to be done to make platforms and information more secure, have legislation to create privacy.. Rights for those who are online,” he said.

Supreme Court is deliberating whether privacy can be recognised as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The impact of the right, or the absence of it, however, is shown more across the digital spectrum. Making the shift to digital and by linking all the other models of egovernance like Aadhar will raise the question: will it make the platforms more robust and accountable or weaken privacy and data security.

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Banking infrastructure is wide open to compromise and that has been witnessed on multiple occasions in recent years. Cyber attacks have become increasingly difficult to curb and the focus needs to also be on formulating a strong legislation to guarantee digital privacy and data security. Individuals must be allowed more control over user data, conditional access to data indicating user behaviour etc.

“Several things need to be done. For example will the shift to cashless economy make the KYC process more robust or less robust since we are using Aadhar etc. Several things need to be put into place–both legislatively and from a point of view of security, infrastructure, and systems, as we transition to this,” Chandrasekhar said.

One of the biggest challenges for the government and the public has been to familiarise with digital payment methods. Financial literacy and transaction literacy has become imperative even for the uneducated. That will continue to be one of the biggest challenges and will take a long time to be addressed.

“Whether it is financial literacy or behavioural change as well as the systems and securities and safeguards that are required, adequate has been done. But, more needs to be done in terms of improving the financial literacy, transaction literacy among common Indians,” he said.

First published on: 14-12-2016 at 19:24 IST
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