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Media turns privacy into controversy
Shray Jai Mishra | 20 Dec 2010

This article talks about the situation role and the current need of media in society..the controversy of tapes is media born and the reactions to it.

I CAN'T say about others but since the past few days I have been constantly trying to understand, what is making so much of news? What is the whole phone tapping issue about? What is the role of the media, and what it should have been?

Press and media everyday are saying things about it. There have been discussions on this issue. By all this i know that, It all started with the Outlook story.
 
According to them the government of our country was importing new technology to make the process of telephone tapping easier. It added fuel to fire by saying that this technology was should be used for national security by the government but is actually being used for the tabs of its political rivals.

The government in reply said that the news story has no substance in their allegations. It never ordered any such tapping. I quite believe that the news magazine is right. When I say this I want to make it clear that I am not spying anyone for information but everyone in this country knows how it works and how honest politicians we have. Coming back to the topic the truth is that phones are routinely tapped and no one cares to seek any permission.
 
Well here it should be noted that in some cases its right but if its intruding in the privacy of someone as big as Ratan Tata, the chairman of India's largest conglomerate, it should be done properly. Tata said that the publication of his private conversations with Radia was a grave violation of his right to privacy. He questioned how the conversations reached the public domain and demanded action against those responsible for the leak. Tata had last week said that "we are really going down the root into a Banana Republic".
 
In this context, I would like to clear a few things. The Indian Telegraph Act does not lay out specific procedures as to how wiretapped information is to be protected and secured, under Section 24 it is not permitted for any person to illegally obtain the contents of an intercepted telegraph.

Section 24 says that, “Unlawfully attempting to learning the contents of messages – If any person does any of the acts mentioned in section 23 with the intention of unlawfully learning the contents of any message, or of committing any offence punishable under this Act, he may (in addition to the fine with which he is punishable under section 23) be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year.” But as we see none of it happened. It makes me ask whether India wants privacy legislation, and, if so, what privacy legislation should look like.
 
These are some very big questions and need to be answered.
 
The Prime Minister on the inaugural of the India Corporate week said on this issues that, “We are aware of the nervousness in some sections of corporate sector about phone tapping. While these powers are needed, they have to be exercised with utmost care and under much defined rules, procedures and mechanisms so that they are not misused”.

The court said, “We make it clear nobody’s image should be tarnished. Every individual has the right to protect his dignity.” The judges also warned the media to report carefully on Tata’s case.

And what about, the media?

All they have been is hosting debates and shows on this issue. And the discussions have been of poor quality, missing the wood for the trees. We all agree that, Media plays an important role. It’s a mirror of the society. Its duty is to inform, educate and entertain the people but nowadays media is not doing its duty honestly. Instead of giving important, information and educative news it is giving emphasis to news that will sensationalize the public. Their only motive is to attract people and increase their TRP ratings and readership, depending on their medium.

It has a constructive role to play for the society. But today a part of media acts as puppet; they have become a mouthpiece of some political party. Their work limits only to spread the ideology of the party rather than giving the correct news.
 
People then have to judge on their own by looking different channels for the same news which ultimately leads them to form an opinion. We claim that media is free and impartial. Media in India is still under the clams of political parties, and it will prevail as long as the myth about Indian democracy lasts. If the Media needs to clarify its role it has to come out of its shackles and define its own boundaries.
 
Here I am reminded of Rabindranath Tagore: when he commented on media role during the freedom movement.

"Shackle me with chains, Assail me with scriptures, I shall blow them to bits, and freeing myself give freedom to you."

Media should remember that there are laws to regulate the information from being presented in a way that prejudices a person or discloses information that the public does not have a right to know. Intruding in someone’s privacy is not a part of media ethics.

I just have a quote from one of my all-time favorite movie,’ Spider-man’. The line is something like, “ With great power comes great responsibility".