Govt Sold Driving License Data To 87 Private Companies For Rs 65 Crore
The government has received Rs 65 crore by selling registration records of approximately 25 crore vehicles and data of 15 crore driving licence, said the Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari in parliament on July 8. Gadkari, responding to an unstarred question by Congress Rajya Sabha MP Husain Dalwai stated that the ministry has sold the data access to 87 private companies and 32 government entities.
Gadkari responded in affirmation when asked if the government has linked Vahan and Sarathi with stolen vehicles data from the National Crime Record Bureau.
Earlier, on March 8, 2019, the government had approved a Bulk Data Sharing policy. The policy enables the government to sell driving licenses and vehicle registration data to commercial firms. Amid debate over the issue of privacy and data protection, the government citing benefits to the “transport and automobile industry” approved the policy.
The policy states that sharing data in a controlled manner can support the transport and transport industry. “It is recognized that sharing data for other purposes, in a controlled manner, can support the transport and automobile industry. The sharing of data will also help in service improvements and wider benefits to citizens and the government. In addition, it will also benefit the country’s economy. The prime focus is on delivering simpler, better and safer services to the citizens…,” it further reads.
Procedure To Sell Data
In a notification titled “Bulk Data Sharing Policy & Procedure”, the ministry listed the procedure for selling data.
The policy mentioned that an organisation with at least 50% ownership by an Indian resident or company can have access to such data. And all bulk data accessed by the organisation shall be stored in local data centres in India. “The data at any point shall not be transferred/ processed/ stored in a server outside India,” states the policy.
For the purchase of data, the policy states, “The commercial organizations and individuals seeking bulk data will have to pay an amount of Rs 3 crore for the FY 2019-20.” While educational institutions using the data for research purposes would have to pay Rs 5 lakh. However, the policy mentions that there would be a 5 per cent increase in prices from the financial year 2020-21.
The policy states that the data in bulk will be released in an encrypted format and will have the public key of the nodal person of the purchasing organization who will manage the data securely.
Further, the policy to share RC and DL detail, states that any non-compliance of data loss prevention or handling of sensitive information by the organisation getting access to the data will result in termination of the contract.
“Wherever it comes to the notice of the ministry through audit or any other source that the protocol of use of data as prescribed herein has not been followed or has been violated, the person/ agency concerned shall be liable for any action permissible under the IT Act/ any other applicable law besides debarring of such agency from access to this data for a period of three years,” the policy notes.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Arghya Sengupta, research director, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, said that if it is a data set in bulk which does not contain any personal information then there will not be any significant privacy concerns.
Arghya, further says that as long as there is no way of identifying individuals, there should not be any issues.