Replying to a question in Rajya Sabha, the Minister for Road Transport and Highways has revealed that the government is selling personal data related to vehicle registration and driving licenses at a price of Rs 3 crore. The Minister further revealed the department has already earned a revenue of Rs 65 crores from the sale of this data.
The Economic Survey of 2018-19, a yearly government document of the state of the economy proposed new ways to achieve a trillion-dollar data economy for India. The Chief Economic Adviser has dedicated an entire chapter for data, title “Data of the People, by the people and for the people”. In this chapter, he proposed plans of the government to sell data collected as part of welfare activities like PDS distribution and National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme to be sold to private sector to further fund welfare activities.
The Economic Survey calls for treating data as a public good and proposes the sale of data to the private sector as other countries sell public data like bus timetables in the UK. To further promote and enable this data economy, the survey proposes interlinking of databases to build a giant database using Aadhaar. It proposes to shift the practice of collecting data using paper to digital.
The survey not only recommends building the new infrastructure of government data, it recommended active sale of it assuming the data protection law was already tabled in parliament. In this episode, host of Cyber Democracy, Srinivas Kodali, discusses "the economy of data" with Professor Reetika Khera of IIM Ahmedabad.