At a time when the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 has been referred to a select Parliamentary Committee, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has revealed that it has made Rs 73 crore over the past five years by selling vehicle data.
In response to an RTI filed by Outlook, the government has said that it has benefited to the tune of Rs 73 crore courtesy 168 entities who have bought data from the Transport National Register. The process of selling data of vehicle records to agencies after approval from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has been in place for five years.
Agencies like banks, insurance companies and manufacturers are authorised by the MoRTH to access data after paying Rs 50/100 (depending on type of agency) for each record searched and 168 such entities have the government’s approval.
Out of the 168, 61 companies are Non-Banking Finance Companies and 43 organisations are Banks. The remaining number is made up of Transporters (32), Insurance companies (19) and Manufacturers (13).
The kind of data being bought by the above industries pertain to vehicle registration, with the government listing 25,75,24,183 vehicles as having been digitized thus far. All of this data is with the Transport National Register, which is fed by State Registers, enabling the user to access data as an "Anywhere Service". The total number of records that can be searched are 1,43,92,465 at the moment.
A user can search the vehicles according to parameters like the vehicle’s Registration Number, Chassis Number, Engine Number, Body Type, Fuel Type, Color, Name of Manufacturer and the model of the car, for example.
A story by Medianama on September 10 lists the details of the companies that have been approved to buy the data. From the banking industry, it listed Punjab National Bank, Citi Bank and Yes Bank as buyers while players from the automobile industry like Volkswagen, Toyota and Nissan have accessed it.
On March 8, a MoRTH notification titled “Bulk Data Sharing Policy & Procedure” listed the procedure for selling data. It also mentioned that sharing data can “support the transport and automobile industry” in addition to benefiting the country’s economy, and improving services and benefits for citizens. “There has been a growing demand to share the data for wider benefits,” it added.