Now, only Indian firms can access VAHAN big data and for a fee

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on May 03, 2019

VAHAN database captures 28 types of vehicle data including colour, power, dealer, chassis number and fuel type. File photo   -  The Hindu

Road Ministry has framed a policy for sharing its database

Big data generated by the Road Ministry will no longer come free or without riders.

The Ministry has become sensitive to misuse of such data and has said its vehicle database can only be used by companies that are registered in India and at least 50 per cent Indian owned.

All such data accessed by companies will have to be stored in servers in India and monitored by security auditors to prevent data leakage. Companies using such data for commercial purpose will have to shell out ₹3 crore, annually.

VAHAN database

The Road Transport and Highways Ministry recently shaped a bulk data sharing policy and procedure – for sharing data regarding vehicle registration from the VAHAN database – following a wide demand for such data which can be used for varied purposes.

“The policy has been issued to ensure companies use data in an anonymised manner. A company in the business of selling paints could want to know the maximum number of cars sold to find the preferred colour,” explained an official. The Ministry has put a condition that companies wanting to do big-data analytics, must be registered in India with at least 50 per cent ownership by an Indian or have an Indian company.

Moreover all bulk data that the firm accesses should be stored in data servers or centres located in India. The analytics firm would also have to submit a security report from Cert-in empanelled security auditor to prevent data leakages. The data – which will be transferred in an encrypted form – can be had by commercial organisations and individuals seeking bulk data after they pay ₹3 crore for 2019-20. Educational institutions, wanting to use data “only for research” can get it, for ₹5 lakh. The companies cannot further transfer the raw data, though they can sell analysis of such data.

28 types of vehicle data

The VAHAN database captures 28 types of vehicle data including colour, power, dealer, chassis number and fuel type.

The policy, while asking agencies to anonymise data, also warns against using various types of data to identify specific people, with the intention to not let the data be used in violation of privacy of individuals. The Ministry’s move comes at a time when globally Europe and the US are taking on the biggies to protect privacy rights of people.

That said — the Ministry has also pointed out situations that lead to a compromise in sanctity of data that it shares. For instance, there may be vehicle data before the online system was implemented. There could also be cases of consumers not updating their data when they move across places.

Challenges remain in implementing such policy. There have been cases of huge amounts of data downloaded from certain terminals of enforcement agencies such as police departments. The IT system of the government tracks the IP addresses on which such data is downloaded.

Published on May 03, 2019

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