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Business News/ News / India/  Govt to scrap bulk data sharing policy over privacy, misuse concerns

Govt to scrap bulk data sharing policy over privacy, misuse concerns

Rather than selling bulk data, reports generated based on analysis of vehicular data will be made available to citizens
  • Sensitive and personal data will not be shared and any such move will follow personal data protection laws
  • Union minister Nitin Gadkari (Photo: Mint)Premium
    Union minister Nitin Gadkari (Photo: Mint)

    NEW DELHI : Following concerns over privacy and misuse of data, the government has decided to scrap a year-old “bulk data sharing policy" that allowed it to sell data gathered from citizens’ vehicle registration certificates and driving licences.

    In a recent meeting, key officials from the home, finance, information technology (IT) and the transport ministries decided that rather than selling the bulk data, comprising details of vehicle registration and licence, it would make available to citizens reports based on analysis of vehicular data.

    The structure and mechanism for sharing reports free of cost are yet to be decided. Sensitive and personal vehicle data will not be shared and the move should be in line with the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, if and when it is passed by Parliament.

    Officials cited concerns over misuse of data.

    “There have been certain issues received in regard to the sharing of data in public, and that whether the bulk data shared with the stakeholders can be misused…It was decided that rather than sharing the bulk data with any company or organization on the cost basis, reports generated on the basis of analysis of the vehicular data available in the national register on the portal may be shared for use of citizens/stakeholders," according to the minutes of the meeting. Mint has reviewed the minutes.

    Under the bulk data sharing policy released by the transport ministry in March 2019, the government could share and sell vehicle details of registered vehicles and driving licences available on the online government databases Vahan and Sarathi that are currently operational across most states and Union territories. The larger idea was to share data in a ‘controlled manner’ to support the automobile industry.

    Officials at the meeting decided applications received by organizations, or under process for request of data sharing will be rejected. Till now only one request has been processed and the transport ministry is yet to approve it.

    Experts welcomed the move. “This is an incrementally positive step as the government has acknowledged privacy concerns and that a data protection law is required, and everything has to be within that legal framework," said Apar Gupta, executive director of Internet Freedom Foundation.

    The ministry had said it shares vehicle registration certificates and driving licence data with enforcement agencies. It also sells this data to automobile industries, banks, and finance companies, among others, at specified rates.

    The policy allowed bulk data access to any company registered in India, with 50% ownership by an Indian resident or an Indian company. “It is recognized that sharing this 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 government," the policy said.

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    Published: 24 Jun 2020, 07:04 PM IST
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