Hear them out

Recently, cricketer Rohit Sharma slammed a sports channel after an audio leak of his personal conversation was telecast.
Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma

BENGALURU: Popular cricketer Rohit Sharma called out a sports channel for telecasting his conversation despite his request to not air them. Many voiced their opinion in support of Sharma, calling it a privacy breach. This has also raised concerns about celebrities not having a safe space to voice their opinions in private.

Actor Akshara Gowda points to the lip-reading videos that go viral on social media. “Since everything on social media is monetised, anything you post there will sell. Celebrity talks are the juiciest topics of the lot. I remember Suhana Khan came under the spotlight for using the F-word during an IPL match last year. How did people figure it out? People should cut them some slack. It was the heat of the moment during a match and she was there to watch it, it’s no one’s business,” voices out Gowda, adding that she hopes there is some regulation on this.

Agrees actor Chaithra Achar. “Imagine someone like Scarlett Johansson woke up to the fact that her voice has been copied by an AI tool. I understand celebrities are public figures but there is a part of them that is completely theirs. It can be as small as them saying, ‘I want to go home.’ Today, we are under so much scrutiny that it can be interpreted in many different ways,” says Achar, adding, “I have come across so many lip-reading videos and it’s scary. Most of the time, I usually cover my mouth while I am chatting publicly to avoid any such accident.”

Dhanya Ramkumar
Dhanya Ramkumar

However, Sandalwood star Dhanya Ramkumar has a different perspective. She says, “People are going to be curious about what their favourite celebrities are up to. For a public figure, it comes as a part of the job. The paparazzi culture in India has changed, too. We didn’t have much technology back in the day to zoom in and shoot. However, there have to be clear lines. Be it hacking, morphing or stalking...all of them are unethical. In such cases, there have to be strong laws,” explains Ramkumar.

Taking off from Ramkumar’s concern, Safir Anand, senior partner at the law firm Anand & Anand, points out that with the onset of modern technology, several cases of impersonation have emerged, including misuse of personality rights through deepfakes, voice, morphed images or videos, or any form of impersonation that is not approved by a personality. “Each person, whether celebrity or not, has a right to privacy. Article 21 of the constitution gives a citizen right to life and liberty and within that a right to their privacy.

When you intrude into a personal conversation between two people as opposed to a speech made publicly, you are violating their fundamental right to be left alone. Getting into the private zone of a person to take photos, record conversations, scoop on people needs special permission which is granted only in accordance with law for judicial purpose or enforcement. When someone is well known, they develop personality rights which include right to image, voice, and privacy,” he says.

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