Md Nadimul Haque speaks about misuse of public data on govt mobile app


Sir, it has been reported that public data published by a Government of India mobile application called the ‘Vahan App’, is being misused. There is serious concern that this transport ministry app, which allows users to identify vehicle owners, is being used by miscreants for targeted violence through ascertaining identity of vehicle owners.

The Vahan app makes all vehicle registration records across India publicly available. It allows people to look up the name of a car owner by simply using their vehicle registration number. Such open access to citizens’ personal data poses not only a huge privacy risk but may also lead to a potential risk to human life and private property.

However, in March 2019, the Ministry for Road, Transport and Highways rolled out the Bulk Data Sharing Policy, under which it chose to make the vehicle registration database public. Individual consent was not sought for this. It allowed organisations to pay an annual fee of 3 crore rupees, and research and education institutions 5 lakh rupees, to access these databases. In July 2019, the databases were sold to about 87 private and 32 government entities, at a cost of Rs 65 crore.

In the absence of a personal data protection law to protect people’s online privacy, such selling and misuse of data is deeply worrying. I urge the ministry to conceal personal details of individuals in the database and even stop public as well as private access to the data on the portal.

Sir, may I take this opportunity to urge to protect all of us members not only from our right to data privacy but also to ask for clarification from the Minister after he delivers his speech. Sir, what happened yesterday, when Opposition members were not allowed to seek clarification, was totally unacceptable.