• Thursday, Aug 05, 2021
  • Last Update : 01:18 pm

Commentary: Privacy matters

  • Published at 12:10 am April 5th, 2021

Is it too much to ask for us the media consumers to be told what is the source of such ‘phone leaks’?

Two of Bangladesh’s leading ladies in politics steered the country’s democratic ship of state in the post-autocracy era. But for over a decade they were reportedly not on talking terms.

It was not until October 26, 2013 when they mutually decided to give the long silence a break and conversed over the phone for well over half an hour to discuss modalities for the upcoming national elections.

It was evident from subsequent developments that that phone conversation did not do much to resolve the stand-off over the modus operandi of ensuing elections.

But a surprise leak of their entire phone conversation definitely came in handy to sycophants on both sides of Bangladesh’s perennial political divide in settling scores over whose leader had been more accommodative and whose had been less.

One leader demanded a probe into the leak but the other’s party maintained that the nation should know exactly what transpired between the top two leaders of the country.

Since 2013, we have seen on numerous occasions how "unknown authorities" leak phone conversations of people (particularly those involved in politics) and a section of social media and the mainstream media picks up on these leaks almost immediately and dishes out the information to an eager public. There is hardly any source authentication or cross-verification of these leaks.

Now, the leak practice has reached to such an extent that an individual’s private and intimate phone conversation with his or her partner/spouse is not considered sacrosanct anymore. The way a section of media picks up such "phone leaks" and thinks nothing of carrying these as news items without mentioning any source whatsoever, let alone considering the legality and propriety of such leaks, is disturbing.

Is it too much to ask for us the media consumers to be told what is the source of such "phone leaks" and who is apparently listening in on private citizens' phone calls and with what intent? 

For argument's sake – however questionable such an argument may be – if we consider that one state apparatus or the other is doing so for "the greater state interest" -- the question still remains as to how come these land into the hands of the media, with what purpose, and why the media projects these without referring to any source. Such media projections – criticism is there – actually leads to "trial by media" before one is proven guilty in eyes of the laws of the land.

An individual's privacy should be sacrosanct, whosoever they may be. And it should go without saying that the due process of law and common decency should govern when this privacy is violated.

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