Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Of Internet and Safety! - Nivibo Y. Sumi, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology


Internet has become part and parcel of our daily life. One is in fact dependent on the internet and the benefits it affords to those utilizing it. The on-going ban on mobile internet in Nagaland has affected both the professional and personal front as the increasing dependency on its usage rises. At the same time, there is the question of personal security and data information which this week’s article addresses. How safe are we?


Of Internet and Safety!


Media-saturated lives! That’s how an individual exists in today’s technologically advanced society. It is not uncommon to see people today, young and old alike, to drift around, having recently discovered the idleness that a simple internet blockage could bring. This is not the first time that the government initiated ‘Internet-gagging’. The last time this policy got implemented was during the infamous March 5th incident of 2015. Having been suddenly caught in this myriad of new adjustments that one has recently been experiencing, it can now be said that the internet is the new drug that the modern world offers. Today it almost shares equal importance with that of essential elements like breathing or ingestion of food and water. Shopping, travelling, banking, business, research, information on health care, education etc. are some of the few advantages that the internet offers.

One of the most commonly used and abused means of internet in Nagaland today are social networking sites like FacebookWhatsAppInstagram, Twitter and Snapchat, where the majority of the populace spend their productive hours in socialising wirelessly. Accessing social networks through the internet is not a new thing, it had a humble origin when Yahoo! Messenger was launched. This revolutionised communicating around the world, and Nagaland was not behind in catching up with the new fever. Kuknalim.com offered the newly internet-fuelled generation with chatting over the computer, locally. Besides, Hi5 and Orkut emerged. These social networking sites fuelled the internet engine and kept it running till Facebook came into the scene and took over as the new king of social networking.

Studies reveal that today, 2.4 billion people or roughly 37.3% of the world’s total population uses the internet; 70% of which uses the internet every day. 8 new people are introduced to the internet every second. It is estimated that the internet usage has increased by 566% since 2000! This huge upsurge in internet usage can be attributed to mobile devices that an individual possess, serving both as the essential means of communication and also a symbol of status for some.

Mobile phones became a revolutionary instrument in 1996 when a Finnish company first introduced mobile internet or ‘Mobile Web’. This was the Nokia 9000 Communicator via the Sonera and Radiolinja networks. However, it was not until 1999 that the first commercial internet, i-mode, was launched in Japan by NTT DoCoMo. Nokia took advantage and introduced their highly coveted phone, the Nokia 6600, running on Symbian S60 Operating System, and with this sealed the fate of the “Holy Grail” of the modern technology. This would eventually lead the way to the ‘smartphone’ era.

Amidst the plethora of various apps, and with smartphones getting smarter with each passing day, how safe is a person on the internet today? Free access to the internet, it does come with a price: a heavy one where various elements, including the governmental agencies, exploit users. Privacy needs to be maintained as humanely as possible. It is mostly violated by both the anti-social elements and the government alike. This has been a serious social concern for the world. How private are our lives in this era of technology?


And while the rest of the world celebrated “Data Privacy & Protection Day” on 28th January, here in Nagaland we celebrated our uniqueness in the form of “internet gagging”. The very purpose of Data Privacy Day is to raise awareness and promote privacy. It was first initiated by the Council of Europe in 2007. As Internet became easily accessible, more and more personal information accumulated online, mostly through these social networking sites. It’s increasingly important that users all over the world understand both the benefits and potential risks of online data sharing, and the tools at their disposal to control and manage the data they share. This is a global issue. Take, for instance, Instagram. This seemingly innocent app saves information based on our ‘hashtag’ searches and prepares a profile for each user, based on which ads are displayed. Why should a third-party keep track of my online activity?


Civilisation today has arrived at a stage where one constantly and unknowingly keeps validating oneself on the basis of emotional gratification. This is done primarily through the mediums of the social networking sites. No one is to be blamed here because it is the very essence of our identity as a human, the need to love and be loved. The internet, much like the fire, can ‘either melt you or forge you’. So should we stop using it?

Civilisation today has arrived at a stage where one constantly and unknowingly keeps validating oneself on the basis of emotional gratification. This is done primarily through the mediums of the social networking sites. No one is to be blamed here because it is the very essence of our identity as a human, the need to love and be loved. The internet, much like the fire, can ‘either melt you or forge you’. So should we stop using it?

On the one hand, it is a powerful weapon if used wisely, and on the other it has the potential to destroy an individual. Phishing scams, cyber-bullying, revenge porn to name a few, are so common in today’s world. Sharing personal information through e-mails have resulted in individuals enduring losses in many areas. At the end of the day, it’s the choice that people make. It’s very much like the sins and dangers that lurk around, so should one stop living or stop using fire because it’s dangerous? The answer definitely negates the very question, which is almost illogical. The same principle can be applied to the internet usage amidst the danger that it poses. If one is still confused then to stay safe online, one can go back online; “Google-Baba” is the answer and it has the solution to every query you have. Safe Browsing!



Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Anjan K Behera, Tatongkala Pongen, Nungchim Christopher, and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org.


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