A few days ago, while attending a meeting with IT experts, one of my friends suddenly asked a question: What would happen if Google and Facebook were closed forever? Her question drew everyone's attention. It was naive and unexpected. The government has been gearing up to create a paperless office, but it also threatens the tradition of writing and keeping documents.
This scribe has a habit of jotting important anecdotes down in notebooks. But now I write everything on laptops and mobile screens or post on social networking sites. I also wonder how our lives would change if Facebook and Google pages were turned off. The experts had their own arguments on these hypothetical queries. Some argued that Facebook or other social sites would not be deactivated, but others insisted that people's lives were increasingly becoming insecure due to the rise of social media fuelled by new technology. It has not only increased the possibility of theft or loss of confidential data, but it also offers various safety measures to avoid these risks. Technology expert Sarah Johnson warns that users face continuous risks of privacy breaches, surveillance, and data misuse. It is necessary to take effective measures to check for data breaches and financial fraud.
Renowned IT expert John Doe said, "Complexity is inherent in technology, but it is our ability to harness and manage that complexity that determines success." This requires understanding the intricacies of emerging technologies, their interdependencies, and the impact they have on multiple facets of operations, he added. Tech companies and IT wizards have had a profound impact on various aspects of our lives, from social networking and entertainment to search engines and productivity tools. The new technology has provided people with easy access to information. Their creations have contributed to the development and widespread adoption of innovative technologies and platforms that have transformed the way we communicate, access information, and interact with the digital world. They have also come under scrutiny, with debates surrounding privacy concerns, ethical considerations, and the influence of digital platforms on society.
The prevalence of smartphones, social media, and virtual interactions often supplants meaningful face-to-face interactions, resulting in feelings of loneliness, disconnection, and reduced empathy. Psychologist John Smith emphasises that excessive screen time and constant exposure to digital media can have detrimental effects on our mental well-being. Increased reliance on technology has been associated with higher rates of anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances. The culture of comparison, cyberbullying, and the addictive nature of social media platforms further exacerbate mental health. Therefore, the emerging technology has not only facilitated human life, but it has also increased the risk of controlling information systems and narratives by a few tech firms that operate major software companies and social networking sites.
The most common risks of new technologies are data breaches, leakage of private and confidential information, software vulnerabilities, interoperability issues, online harassment, identity theft, and an erosion of trust in the digital realm. New technology has been abused to commit fraud, character assassination, emotional blackmail, and harassment. According to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Centre, USA, cybercrime caused economic losses worth over $4 billion in 2020, with a surge in ransomware attacks and phishing scams. This data highlights the pervasive nature of cybercrime and its significant impact on the economy. Data analysis from the World Economic Forum states that cybercrime costs the global economy an estimated $1 trillion annually. This financial burden severely impacts businesses and governments, hindering economic growth and stability.
“Cybercrime is impacting businesses of all sizes, and any business that wants to ensure its uptime, its reputation, and the safety of its employee and customer data has a responsibility to invest in cybersecurity and put themselves ahead of disruption,” Erin McLean, chief marketing officer at eSentire, told Cybercrime Magazine. Research conducted by the Identity Theft Resource Centre reveals that in 2020 alone, there were over 1.4 million reported cases of identity theft in the United States alone. The growing accumulation and retention of personal data by corporations and institutions has raised concerns about privacy and data security.
It is imperative to prioritise safeguarding privacy and guaranteeing the security of data for the well-being of individuals, businesses, and governments alike.
Confidential data leakage
These days developed countries are also facing great challenges from new technology. When personal and government secret information is leaked to the public, the state feels a security threat. In Nepal, too, government websites are frequently hacked and closed for a long time. As a result, there is a fear that the government’s confidential data may get into the hands of hackers. Some time ago, anonymous hackers attacked the official website of the Institute of Science and Technology (IoST), Tribhuvan University, and posted content entitled 'Justice for Sandip LC' on it. They had apparently sought justice for cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane, who is currently in judicial custody over a rape charge. The number of victims, who have complained that hackers have withdrawn millions of rupees from their personal bank accounts, is also growing significantly.
Technology has undoubtedly brought about a sea change in the lives of people, but it is crucial to critically evaluate its impacts on society. With the evolution of cutting-edge information technology, there is a decline in social bonds, negative effects on mental health, privacy loss, economic disruption, and environmental degradation. These consequences can be tackled through collaboration among individuals, corporations, and the government. It is necessary to chart a path where technology is ethically harnessed, ensuring that its positive impact exceeds its drawbacks.
(Neupane is associated with Nepal Television.)