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The government of India has been sharing vehicle registration and driving license data to private and government agencies. The shared data could also contain credentials that should have remained private.
Approximately 25 crore vehicle registration records and 15 crore driving license records on Vahan and Sarathi platforms have been shared by the government. India has never been a safe country for data and the security level of government websites are very low.
In the past, hackers have hacked directly into government websites, retrieved data and then sold it to private buyers. Now, the government has decided to sell the data themselves. In the recently released economic survey, one of the provisions mentioned the use of generating revenue from data. Well, it seems like the government has been doing this for quite some time now.
According to a report by India Today, at the recent Rajya Sabha session, Husain Dalwai, a Congress MP asked if the government has intended to sell Vahan and Sarathi Database in bulk and if so, what would be the estimated revenue for such a sale.
In reply to this question, Nitin Gadkari, the Minister of Road Transport & Highways confirmed that the government was indeed sharing the data and making money from it. The government has provided 87 private and 32 government organisations access to the Vahan and Sarathi database and has earned revenue of Rs 65 crore by doing so.
Vahan is a website and database dealing with vehicle registrations while Sarathi is a website and database dealing with drivers' licenses. Both websites run on servers in the National Informatics Centre and the Centralised National Registry is maintained by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways.
The government has created a centralised system to maintain transport-related data and has even linked the stolen vehicles data to Vahan and Sarathi through the National Crime Records Bureau.
Nitin Gadkari was quoted as saying, "The organization seeking bulk data can obtain the data with an amount of Rs 3 crore for the FY 2019-20. The educational institutions can obtain the data for research purposes and internal use only. The bulk data is provided to them one time on payment of Rs 5 lakh for the financial Year 2019-20."
We aren't too sure of what educational institutions could do with the data. Private companies and manufacturers though could get a more detailed report on the customers buying competitors products. Manufacturers can also directly target buyers with their vehicles.
In all likelihood, details like the residential address, email ID and even phone numbers have been shared by the government. This gives manufacturers huge advantages over each other but the buyers become the scapegoat.
Thoughts On Government Sells Vehicle and Driving License Data For Rs 3 Crore
There is no proper data protection law in India and this is the sole reason for such acts. The government should have ideally been responsible for the protection of the people's data. However, in this case, it is the government that is selling the citizens' data for revenue. If the data gets into the wrong hands, it could be misused as the addresses and mobile numbers of vehicle owners have also been shared.