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Business News/ News / India/  IRCTC to share your name, address, other personal details to monetise data
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IRCTC to share your name, address, other personal details to monetise data

IRCTC has floated a tender for appointing a consultant for digital data monetization to leverage its 10 crores registered users data
  • As per the IRCTC's tender document, the customer's data that will be studied by the consultant includes name, age, mobile number, gender, address, email-id etc
  • Due to an increasing number of electric vehicles (EVs) in the city, the Central Railways has planned six new EV charging stations at suburban railway stations soon (HT PHOTO) (HT_PRINT)Premium
    Due to an increasing number of electric vehicles (EVs) in the city, the Central Railways has planned six new EV charging stations at suburban railway stations soon (HT PHOTO) (HT_PRINT)

    IRCTC is in the spotlight again as the country's largest e-commerce website is planning to monetise its crore of passengers' data. The Indian Railways ticket booking arm is doing it to generate additional revenue that would enable the company to improve its margins. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has floated a tender for appointing a consultant for digital data monetization to leverage its 10 crores registered users data.

    As per the IRCTC's tender document, the customer's data that will be studied by the consultant includes name, age, mobile number, gender, address, email-id, no. of passenger, class of journey, payment mode, login/password.

    The news has generated apprehension among crores of users of IRCTC as India still does not have a data protection law. Recently, the central government withdrew the contentious Personal Data Protection Bill 2019, which aimed to regulate how companies and the government could use the digital data of citizens. And, it is yet not known when the new version of the law would see the light of the day.

    What does IRCTC's tender say?

    As per the IRCTC's tender document, the data to be studied will include information captured by the transporter's various public facing applications such as "name, age, mobile number, gender, address, e-mail ID, class of journey, payment mode, log in or password" and other details.

    The document titled 'The Scope of Work for Project A: For Study of Monetization of Digital Data of Indian Railways(IR)' said the consultant will also study the data of passenger, freight, and parcel businesses of the Indian Railways such as PRS, NGeT, NTES, UTS, Rail Madad, FOIS, TMS, e-CRM, and PMS, as well as vendor-related data from applications like IREPS, VMS and IPAS.

    The consultant would also be provided access to the digital data systems which generate behavioural data such as flow of passengers, class of journey, frequency of journey, travel time, booking time, age group and gender, payment mode, number of destinations, and booking modes.

    The document also said that the consultant will study various Acts or laws, including the IT Act, 2000 and its amendments, user data privacy laws, including the General Data Protection Regulation and the current 'Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018', and accordingly, propose the business models for monetisation of digital assets.

    The consultant would also prepare a roadmap for data monetisation of the digital data collected at various customer-facing and vendor-related applications which include zonal railways, divisions, and other units like CRIS, and PSUs like IRCTC, Railtel, etc.

    What do experts have to say?

    Internet Freedom Foundation, a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation advocating digital rights and liberties, has raised concerns over the tender and outlined its pitfalls in a series of tweets.

    "Hey train travellers, your data will soon be monetised by the govt. & that too, in the absence of data protection legislation! ...A profit maximisation goal will result in greater incentives for data collection, violating principles of data minimisation & purpose limitation. Past experiences from the misuse of Vahan database amplify fears of mass surveillance & security risks," it said.

    "IRCTC, a government-controlled monopoly, must not prioritise perverse commercial interests over the rights and interests of citizens. And given the recent withdrawal of the Data Protection Bill, 2021, such monetisation becomes even more concerning," the NGO added.

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    Published: 19 Aug 2022, 10:14 PM IST
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