CHENNAI:Proprietors of three small-scale IT companies were arrested on Saturday in connection with the data leak of students who appeared for the class 10 and 12 state board exams this year.The serious breach of data came to light recently as data companies were openly selling the district-wise details of nearly 8 lakh students along with their address, phone numbers and other personal information, which were collected by the School Education department from the students.
A statement from the city police said three companies in the city were found involved in selling the data and arrested owners of the three companies. But the police could not tell the origin of the breach of data from the government’s database.
The arrested persons are identified as P Praveen Chowdary, owner of Nari Technologies Pvt Ltd, A Sudakar, 32, of IT Acumens (a webs-designing company) and Venkat Roa, 50, of K Square India Technologies Pvt Ltd.
Investigation revealed that Praveen along with Sudakar had developed, at least, 10 new applications in which the data of the students were stolen and illegally sold to Venkat.“Praveen and Sudakar run their companies at Vadapalani and they sold the personal data to Venkat who runs a company at T Nagar. We are further probing how much data they sold and how many other companies are involved and if any government officials are also involved,” said a senior police officer.
Based on a complaint lodged by Director of Government Examinations Vasunthra Devi, the Central Crime Branch (CCB) of the Chennai city police arrested the trio on the charges including cheating, theft of information and personal data and conspiracy.
The incident came to light when the parents of the students started receiving more number of calls from private colleges and institutions, attracting them with various offers and gifts.
Subsequently, a marketing database company put out an advertisement to the private colleges. claiming to buy data of students from any districts in the state. However, this advertisement was removed when the officials from the Education department called them asking how they managed to get the data. The data was found in possession of a database-marketing company and was sold at negotiable prices, according to a leaked audio tape.
The alleged representative of the company admits to having data of all students from 26 districts. “It can cost around `2,000 per district,” she said in the tape. The data were allegedly being sold to college managements to lure students, based on their class 12 board exam results. This would help colleges implement targeted marketing.
Express accessed sample data leaked by the company. Name, age, district, address, group picked in higher secondary exams, class results and phone number are published in a tabular format.The data were initially gathered at district-level. It was later in possession of the Department of Government Education. They had collected personal details of students in order to send SMSes containing their results.