Data Privacy in Context of Nepal

data privacy

As the digital era continues to evolve day by day, the concern for data privacy becomes of utmost importance. It is not solely dependent on personal choice but indeed an essential human right. Therefore, data protection is critical in this age where personal records are constantly at risk of being compromised easily. Moreover, information plays a vital role in technological advancements due to its diverse range of data including user activity, financial information, and personal records, among others. With a vast amount of data being generated and transmitted on the internet, there is a significant risk of data breaches and cyber-attacks.

Additionally, our daily habits have become increasingly effortless, granting us remarkable opportunities in the online world. We have even grown reliant on the internet for even the smallest of tasks. Speaking specifically about Nepal, over 50 percent of the population has internet access. People of various ages, ranging from 3 to above 70, are using the internet for diverse purposes. However, when analyzing these statistics, it is concerning to note that more than 50 percent of internet users still lack awareness regarding data privacy. It is alarming that many users are unaware of the risks associated with data breaches, as a majority of internet users regularly click, share, and register without fully understanding the digital contracts and their consequences.

Data breaches have become a significant concern in Nepal, with increasing risks and challenges. In 2017, a commercial bank in Nepal fell victim to a cyber-attack that resulted in fraudulent transactions through the interbank messaging system. Hackers gained unauthorized access to the SWIFT server, leading to a breach of transactional data. In 2020, a well-known e-commerce food delivery service experienced a major cyber-attack. Later that same year, an alarming data breach shook the nation when one of the largest internet service providers was hacked, compromising confidential information of over 170,000 users. In October 2020, Nepal's first and largest digital wallet suffered a hacking incident, resulting in the breach of information belonging to at least 21 individuals, including their emails, encrypted passwords, and account funds.

Nepal's approach to data privacy is gradually developing in line with global norms, even though there is no established data protection regulation. Nepal's constitution recognizes privacy rights as a fundamental human right. Although effective enforcement measures are lacking, Nepal has introduced data protection rules. Despite the vulnerabilities of the digital and cyber world, here are a few practical steps for safeguarding data privacy to some extent:

  1. Use strong and unique passwords.
  2. Enable Two-factor authentication (2FA).
  3. Regularly update software and devices.
  4. Stay vigilant against phishing attacks and attempts.
  5. Review and adjust privacy settings on social media and other applications.
  6. Frequently back up data.