Sources in the ministry said the government would prefer to wait for the passage of the Data Protection Bill in Parliament before going ahead with this plan.
The IRCTC has set the August 29 deadline for submission of bids for the consultancy service. Officials said there is no question of the agency monetising the data pertaining to individual customers. “We have only floated a tender for engaging a consultant, who will study and suggest the road map for data monetisation keeping in mind the existing laws so that individual privacy is not breached,” said one of them.
The bid document says that the consultant shall study the customer data, including basic data of individual passengers and customers of freight, parcel and other public-facing applications, such as name, age, mobile number, gender, address, e-mail ID, number of passenger, class of journey and payment mode and log-in/password. It will also need to study digital data systems that generate behavioural data such as flow of passengers, frequency of journey, travel time and booking time.
TOI has learnt that necessary approvals were taken before the IRCTC floated the tender and it was decided that only generic and anonymous data would be monetised, which means no individual data or details will be monetised by the government entity.
In a series of tweets, the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) – Indian digital rights advocacy group – said: “The goal of profit maximisation will result in greater incentives for data collection, violating principles of data minimisation and purpose limitation. Past experiences from the misuse of Little database amplify fears of mass surveillance and security risks.”