Home / News / India /  IRCTC withdraws tender to monetise customer data over privacy concerns

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), due to privacy concerns, withdrew a contentious tender for the employment of a consultant to monetise its passenger and freight customer data, officials said on August 26. The railroads' ticketing and catering division told Congress leader Shashi Tharoor's Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology that it was abandoning the tender.

Also Read: Is IRCTC selling customer data?

The Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill, 2019, was dropped by the union government, which is run by Information and Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, on August 3, 2022. A comprehensive Bill for modern digital privacy regulations will replace this long-awaited legislation.

Following a PTI report on the tender for the employment of a consultant for digital data monetisation, the parliamentary panel had questioned IRCTC executives. Rajni Hasija, the MD and chair of the IRCTC, testified before the panel alongside other representatives.

Also Read: IRCTC should stick to data monetisation—but listen to critics

"IRCTC has withdrawn the tender in light of the non-approval of the Data Protection Bill," an IRCTC official informed the panel.

Prior to the panel hearing, the IRCTC annual general meeting made the decision to revoke the tender on August 26. More than 10 crore users are connected to the IRCTC, of which 7.5 crore are active users.

The tender document, , titled 'The Scope of Work for Project A: For study of Monetization of Digital Data of Indian Railways (IR)', states that the data to be examined will include facts like "name, age, mobile number, gender, address, e-mail ID, class of journey, payment mode, login or password" and other information that is collected by the national transporter's different public-facing applications.

Also Read: Railways to revamp its reservation system to weed out ‘malafide users’

Additionally, according to the tender document, the consultant would have access to digital data systems that produce behavioural data about passengers' flow, travel class, frequency of travel, travel and booking times, age and gender, payment method, number of destinations, and booking methods.

According to ANI sources, the Tharoor-led panel will inquire about Twitter's leadership, membership, and whether anything has been done to favour a certain political party.

The committee's mandate will conclude on August 30, 2022, and the panel has been meeting with a variety of stakeholders, including IT businesses, social media companies, ministries, and other regulators. The group is likely to finish writing its report by then.

(With agency inputs)

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