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The Ministry of Transport is making a move towards partially hiding or concealing names of vehicle owners from their public Vahan database. The aim behind concealing owners names is to control and eventually prevent the misuse of the database, and to protect privacy rights of people.
The Ministry's decision comes in the middle of the ongoing violence in the nation's Capital. Reports indicate that the government's Vahan database is being used for targetted violence against vehicle owners.
New Delhi-based digital rights advocacy group, the Internet Freedom Foundation, has already reached out to Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, and has highlighted the misuse of the Vahan database. The group also requested the Ministry to put a stop to public and private access to the Vahan and Sarathi databases.
In a letter addressed to the Transport Ministry, Mr Sidharth Deb, the Policy and Parliamentary Counsel for the Internet Freedom Foundation, said, "We strongly believe that such targeted acts of violence is only possible with the ministry publishing vehicle registration data in the public domain without the consent of individuals,
"Such databasing is particularly risky since the evidence is growing that unfettered access and aggregation of public database are a threat to individual safety and freedoms of all citizens," the letter said. "Such risks are graver for minority or at-risk groups and communities."
A Ministry official who wished to stay anonymous said that the Ministry wants to conceal a few alphabets of the vehicle owner's name in order to protect their identity. The official also added that the government has been working towards this for a while now, and remains unrelated to the violence in Delhi.
While there are concerns about direct and indirect misuse of the Vahan database, officials say that personal data of a vehicle owner is not displayed over the website that is accessible by the public.
The only information is owners name, and type & colour of the vehicle. Officials however say that personal data is shared with law enforcement agencies across the country.
The Ministry however, has a Bulk Data Sharing that states that personal data like vehicle registration certificates, and drivers license data can be shared with the auto industries, banks, and finance companies, at specified rates for each data set.
The Policy states, "It is recognised 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 & government."
Thoughts About The Transport Ministry Wanting To Partially Conceal Names Of Vehicle Owners
Well, we're a little unsure about this move. Sure concealing some alphabets from a name may help, but the question is does it really serve its purpose? We're going to sit back, observe, and say nothing. For now.