As per the reports, the industry and banking giants Mercedes, State Bank of India, ICICI Lombard, Bajaj Allianz and other 138 companies that bought vehicle registration data from the government. Government has a Vahan database, which compromises 25 crore vehicle registration records, regulated by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
According to RTI data obtained by MediaNama show, 127 private and 15 government bodies have bought this data from the ministry. Out of that 30 recognized as public and private sector banks, 19 financial organization, 20 logistics solution providers and 5 automobile manufacturers.
The report said that the government has made Rs 68 crore by selling this database during the year 2014 to 2019. In 2019 the number reached to Rs 21 crore.
Axis Bank, Punjab National Bank, Yes Bank and Citibank are some of the bank names amongst 30 others who have purchased this data from the government.
Automobile giants like Toyota, Volkswagen, Nissan and BMW India Finance and Tata Finance are some of the names present in the list of companies who bought this vehicle data.
Government’s Bulk Data Sharing Policy
As per the report, the ministry has published its bulk data sharing policy on March 2019, while reports say that they have been selling this from 2014. This policy is applicable to 28 different details of data related to Vehicle Registration Certificate and Driving Licences.
Any company which has a 50% share owned by an Indian can purchase this data from government in Rs 3 crore for the fiscal year 2019-20.
Some Unanswered Questions
- What about the consent of individuals whom this data belongs to?
- How does the government decide its price?
- Are there any restrictions on the use of this data?
- How does the government ensure that the data shared does not reveal an individual’s private information?
How Much Individual’s Privacy Is Valued?
The Vehicle and Licence database sold by the government has sparked serious privacy concerns among individuals.
Prasanna S, the lawyer who assisted the petitioners in the right to privacy/Aadhaar cases in the Supreme Court said “Public good conception of personal data is fundamentally at variance with the conception of privacy as a fundamental right,”
The 28 data points shared in bulk data does not include names of the owner but there is a loophole as They allow owner’s name to be searched with the licence no or the registration number. This was disclosed in one of the circulars where they have accepted that “There is possibility of Triangulation (matching different data sets that together could enable individuals to be identified and their privacy compromised). ”(reference)
In mid-July, another news came in regarding government sold driving license data in Rs 65 crore.
The aspect of a user’s consent and every individual’s right to privacy is still not in the picture yet.