HYDERABAD: In what could be termed as misuse of public data, many may have used mobile phone applications in Delhi to get the details of vehicles like owner’s name and so on to allegedly target the members of a particular community. There are indeed such apps that are available for free on Google Play. For instance, if one puts in the licence number of a vehicle on an app called ‘RTO Vehicle Owner Info’, it shares all the details with the user.
There are also more sophisticated apps that divulge details of a vehicle if one scans the licence plate on his/ her mobile phone. But these app users have to shell out money. A city-based security researcher, Srinivas Kodali, said these myriad apps have acquired data illegally through ‘data crawling’. This method allows an internet bot to automatically browse the net for collecting data.
‘Vahan data accessible to private parties’
However, the bigger concern that Kodali pointed out to is the sharing and sale of Vahan data maintained by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to private players. The Delhi-based Internet Freedom Foundation, which wrote to the Central government in this regard, said in a statement, “Vahan database is accessible by the government and external parties under data sharing policy. The purpose of this policy is to help the Ministry of Road Transport earn money by sharing the data with private players, who in turn would use it for commercial purposes.