Telangana: Mozilla Foundation questions data usage by Samagra Vedika, raises privacy issues
The research pointed out that no notification was issued by the government regarding how and when the databases are being used.
HYDERABAD: The State government has run into criticism regarding Samagra Vedika database, after Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit under Mozilla which runs widely known internet browser Mozilla Firefox, in a recent research denounced its usage of data by raising questions of privacy infringement.
Samagra Vedika finds a mention in the study on the uses of Automatic Decision Making Systems (ADMS) by Mozilla fellow, Divij Joshi, where he stresses on the need for more critical interrogation behind the functioning of databases. The study titled AI Observatory noted that it was the data collected through the Samagra Kutumba survey that was being used for the Samagra Vedika database, which gives a ‘360 degree profile’ of citizens.
The research pointed out that no notification was issued by the government regarding how and when the databases are being used. “These databases are held within government administrations, with citizens themselves given no notification of whether they are included within the databases, or how their information is eventually utilised including within ADMS,” the study said.
Quoting a senior Telangana government official in the study wherein the official said, “the more data you feed, all inaccuracies are ironed out,” the study said that the view was flawed. “This quote is a response from a government official to the possibilities of failure in the machine learning component of Samagra Vedika. It is indicative of the prevalent view within government administration, that assumes that increasing the volume of data used in public administration can lead to improved decision-making, without looking into how data is created, what assumptions and biases it embodies,” the study stated.
Joshi, a Bangalore-based researcher and lawyer, said, “Despite the influence of ADMS on billions of Indian lives, there is a disturbing lack of regulation around the systems in use. As documented in this toolkit, many decisions consequential to individuals and communities are being delegated to algorithmic systems that pose serious concerns related to democratic control, justice, and self-determination. The development of such systems is resulting in a situation where considerations of transparency, accountability and democratic control are not given their due regard.”
Lack of regulation is disturbing, says researcher
Despite the influence of ADMS on billions of Indian lives, there is a disturbing lack of recognition or regulation around the systems in use. As documented in this toolkit, many decisions consequential to individuals and communities are being delegated to algorithmic systems that post serious concerns related to democratic control, justice and self-determination, says Joshi, Bangalore-based researcher and lawyer.