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50 Shades of Privacy

We, as Indians, have always viewed Privacy as a Western and foreign concept. At least until you are married. Our parents have never given us privacy. And the logic behind this is unexplainable. Many people do not understand privacy.


Privacy means an individual's ability to control access to personal information and activities. It comes from within, it is the idea that nobody can coerce you or force you to tell something personal. It encompasses the right to private certain aspects of your life, such as personal relationships, financial information, medical records, and communication.


If this is privacy, I think most of us have this right. This information lies with us. They are at our discretion to give out. However, where things get murky is the extent of privacy. And the way other aspects coincide with privacy.


What is privacy for media? What is privacy for a public figure? What is privacy for a politician? What is privacy for an underprivileged person?

The definition and extent of privacy can vary across cultures and legal systems and is often subject to interpretation and debate.


The idea that this article covers is how with time and resources, privacy in itself becomes a privilege. There will always be some things that you do not have to tell, and you can keep them to yourself. But ideas of personal space and identity get public very soon for some people.



Privacy from the Media’s POV


Indian Media. The epitome of Drama. I used to cringe as a kid at the thought of watching News Channels. As I grew up, I realized that our Media is more a source of entertainment than information. I realize that this is a very debatable and unpopular opinion. But other than that, our media has been blamed to violate privacy.


From the media's point of view, privacy can be a complex issue. While respecting an individual's privacy is important, the media also has a responsibility to report on matters of public interest, which may involve sharing personal information or details about an individual's private life. In such cases, the media must balance the public's right to know with an individual's right to privacy.


This fight for reporting the news and maintaining privacy is what creates this tussle. The prime example that comes to my mind is the Burari Case of Delhi. The way Media propagated it. The way the media let things go out of hand and started reporting rumors on TV was horrifying. In the end, they villainized and demonized one woman and blamed her for Burari Case and she could not go out of her house for weeks. They took no responsibility for the same. Her face was shown. Now, I wish to ask, should the media be allowed to do the same if this woman was a rich, upper-class woman?



Ethics of the Paparazzi


One of the aspects of media is the paparazzi. They are also the entertainment media. Their ethics and ideas differ from normal informational media. But they have ethics of their own. They follow these ethics so people, specifically celebrities are not harmed.


But we have often seen Paparazzi printing fake news. Very personal news. There are many media houses or Paparazzi channels on Youtube or Instagram that deal with this. Does this come as an aftereffect of being a public figure? Does the paparazzi have any right to report such malicious rumors? The answer lies in the ethics of media.


The answer is no. Any personal news, if not confirmed by the individual, or someone very close to them, should not be reported. Even rumors of it can be very harmful. An actress looking a bit “overweight” should not be called pregnant for the sake of more drama.

What happened with Ariana Grande is a prime example of this. You should read about that instance.



How does Privacy become a privilege?


Let us understand from a Micro and Macro analysis for the same. On the Micro level, for us, privacy looks like getting space, getting to keep our own lives to ourselves, not telling our private lives to our parents, and being able to sustain our dating lives or our life choices with ourselves. But think of it honestly, can someone who comes from an underprivileged background ask for the same form of privacy or space?


I am not saying that underprivileged people do not have privacy. The extent of privacy, the definition of privacy, and the implementation of privacy are dictated by privilege. The white privilege that the West enjoys is the prime example of kids with maximum privacy. Indian parents, do not believe in the concept of privacy but slowly they are coming to terms with it. As you grow up, you slowly start getting more privacy from your Indian parents.


This might not be true for everyone. What I mean by the extent of Privacy is that an underprivileged person with a small house can not afford to ask for a separate space. This is where the extent of privacy comes in. The woman whose face was shown in the Burari case was poor, her privacy was violated. On a Macro level, Media cares more about privacy when dealing with high-standard clients.


Privacy is not an equal human right. But just like other human rights, it is divided or implemented with privilege. More privileged you are, the more privacy you will have.



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