Social media has become the go-to channel for the dissemination and sharing of news, however, access to instant broadcasting is leading to actions that are ethically and morally wrong. A video of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (F) chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman was uploaded onto social media by a doctor at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), ignoring the binding ethical and legal responsibility of doctors to keep a patient’s matters private. It should not matter who the patient is, whether a famous politician or not — there are rules of conduct that must be followed.

Upon receiving complaints from the family and followers of the religious leader, the PIMS management has suspended the doctor who uploaded the video, and apologised. A three-person committee has also been constituted to look into the matter.

We live in a society where people are constantly recording life, and the invasion into privacy is a bigger problem than we realise. A doctor filming a patient, without consent, is one of the worst examples. Other cases range from harassment; where men can secretly film women, or put cameras in private places; to bullying and cyber bullying, where photos and videos are leaked on the Internet. The problem is not just in one profession; it is a societal addiction. Over the course of the rise of digital devices in the last two decades, we have missed a step, and not taught ourselves to respect individual privacy and ask for consent. These are things that come from how children are brought up in homes, and the social circles they then revolve in. We have mistaken the interconnectedness of our traditional family systems to mean that interference is into each other matters is normal, and this may have extended to the Internet and gotten out of hand.

This was a case of a ‘celebrity’ sighting, and the intention many not have been bad, but what of other cases where intentions are more sinister or perverse? Thought Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman had the resources to fight back, many people do not, and their exploitation may not come to light.