Letters to the Editor: WhatsApp’s New Privacy Policy, Post-Covid ‘Revenge Journey’



Readers write from Calcutta, Maruthancode and Mumbai



Wait

Sir – In a temporary respite for Indian citizens who were reluctant to agree to WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, the popular messaging app said it would not implement the policy as long as India’s Data Protection Act would not come into force. WhatsApp had encountered stiff opposition from users who believed its new policy would threaten their privacy rather than protect it. However, it remains to be seen how India’s data protection law will benefit citizens. The EU government’s new IT rules have already been accused of infringing on citizens’ freedom of expression. Would a data law designed by the same exemption be much different?

Aleya Basu,
Calcutta

Invite trouble

Sir – If large religious congregations and electoral rallies in the midst of the pandemic resulted in the devastating second wave of Covid-19, then bustling tourist destinations, overcrowded vaccination centers and hundreds of people jostling at alcohol outlets could invite, or accelerate the arrival of the third wave. The extent of the damage that the third wave would cause cannot be predicted. As such, photos and videos of people flocking to public spaces and openly flouting Covid-19 protocols make viewing spooky. It is clear from the reckless behavior of masses of people that the great suffering and massive death toll caused by Covid-19 so far has had no significant impact on them – at least not enough to change their behavior. .

In what is called the ‘journey of revenge’ – a phenomenon in which people go on vacation even in the midst of a global contagion because they want to escape the fatigue of isolation caused by blockages – crowds flock to tourist destinations such as Manali or Kempty Falls in Mussoorie, in search of respite and rejuvenation. They seem completely oblivious to the considerable risk to their own lives and the lives of others. Their actions will eliminate any possibility for citizens and the medical fraternity to delay or avoid the third wave even before the second wave has fully withdrawn. Their failure – more accurately their refusal – to resist the temptation to party during a raging pandemic could prove fatal. Plus, going on vacation is grossly inessential at a time like this. A tourist place is not like a workplace where you have to go to earn a living, or a grocery store that you often have to visit to stock up on basic necessities.

It’s almost as if these people no longer fear the devastation the pandemic can bring. As soon as the restrictions are relaxed after a full or partial lockdown, life returns to how it was before the pandemic. It is clear that many people only follow restrictions out of coercion and fear of being penalized. They don’t do it out of conscience or out of their own free will. If they did, we wouldn’t see so many people crowding into public places, wandering the streets unmasked, or going on vacation en masse.

The lack of any kind of social distancing in vaccination centers defeats the very purpose of getting vaccinated. The desperation to get vaccines and people’s disappointment at being turned down make it clear that the problem is not reluctance to vaccinate but the shortage of vaccines. The Kerala High Court has warned that if the crowds in front of retail liquor stores continued, the third wave would not be far behind. This warning should be taken seriously. It is imperative that we all adhere to appropriate Covid-19 behavior until we finally get the best out of the pandemic.

G. David Milton,
Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu

Sir – It was annoying watching videos and seeing pictures of crowds of people celebrating in Manali and Mussoorie. The logic put forward by many of these travelers at a time like this is that they want to go on vacation before the third wave arrives. Don’t they have
realize that the arrival of the third wave will be facilitated by their actions? The point of avoiding travel while the pandemic is raging is to break the chain of transmission, thus fending off the possibility of further outbreaks of the disease. In their attempt to have fun for a few days, these people put the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people in danger.

Sharmin Hossain,
Bombay


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