The Indian government has just approved a policy that seeks to sell vehicle registration data to individuals and organizations who can pay for it. In other words, the Indian government wants to monetize the huge amount of data that now lies with it in the form of vehicle registration details. Each year, lakhs of vehicles are registered in India, and consequently new data is constantly generated. All this data will be up for grabs soon, and the policy that has just been approved for the same is called ‘Bulk Data Sharing’.
What will be shared?
A total of 28 fields of data that encompasses multiple details about a vehicle’s registration will be shared, and this will include the vehicle’s registration number, financing details, insurance details and more. However, the name of the individual owning the vehicle will not be shared through the Bulk Data Sharing policy.
With whom will your vehicle’s registration details be shared?
Commercial organizations, individuals and educational institutions can access this data. Commercial organizations and individuals will have to pay Rs. 3 crore per year to access this data, beginning from 2019-20. As for educational institutions, the fee will be just Rs. 5 lakh/year. However, educational institutions will be able to use this data only for research purposes and internal use.
What does the government have to say about this policy in the document?
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 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. There is a possibility of triangulation. Free access to the vehicle’s basic data is available to all the registered users through mParivahan App or through the web portal of the Ministry. The information available shall be restricted to the basic details regarding statutory compliances and the owner’s name. The purpose of this information is to promote statutory compliances and also facilitate individual hiring/ renting or purchase/ sale of vehicles and hiring of drivers. The data at any point shall not be transferred/ processed/ stored in a server outside India. The data dump will be provided in respect of the data as on 1st January, 1st April, 1st July and 1st October of each calendar year, which will have data up to last day of the previous month. The data will be encrypted with the public key of the nodal person of the purchasing organization who will manage the data securely. 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.
How could this affect you?
As of now, it’s unclear. However, it could lead to loss of privacy if the following occurs:
1. The government itself has admitted that data could be triangulated. What this means is if the registration details of a vehicle is sold, Vahan app can be used to find out the name of the vehicle owner. Further social media outlets such as Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. could be used to track down the owner of the vehicle.
2. Data leaks. As we’ve seen with Aadhar, mass leaks of individual data may happen at different levels. It’s implications are not known for now. But it’s not something that anyone who’s vehicle registration details have been leaked would be looking forward to.
2. Pesky tele-calling and similar marketing tactics such as the ones that most people in India who own a mobile phone have received at some point in time, may restart if companies accessing vehicle registration data manage to track down owners.
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