Amid privacy concerns, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has withdrawn plans to raise money by selling data of rail passengers and freight customers. IRCTC had last week floated a tender to hire private consultants. It was said in the tender that the job of these private consultants would be to advise IRCTC on how to earn money using the data of passengers and freight customers. Since then a lot of controversy has started on this.
IRCTC had said in the tender that it aims to earn up to Rs 1000 crore by selling this data. However, IRCTC told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology Affairs on Friday that it has now withdrawn the tender. Parliament’s Standing Committee on Information Technology Affairs is headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor.
According to an official statement,”In view of the withdrawal of the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 by the Government of India, IRCTC has withdrawn the tender issued on 29 July for the appointment of Consultants for the sale of data of Indian Railways/IRCTC.”
Many experts had raised questions on IRCTC’s plan to earn money by selling data. It was also said to be a risk to the privacy of the passengers. After this, the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Information Technology Affairs had called representatives of IRCTC on Friday 26 August to know about the security and privacy in this matter.
As per the tender, IRCTC wanted to hire a consultant who can advise on monetizing customer data like name, age, mobile number, gender, address, email id. It was also said in the tender that the selected company would have to prepare and implement a data monetization strategy.
Explain that IRCTC is a Public Sector Undertaking. Online booking of railway reservation tickets is done from the IRCTC platform itself. Every day lakhs of passengers book tickets on this platform. It was listed on the stock exchanges in late 2019. On Friday, IRCTC shares closed 0.17 per cent higher at Rs 718.50 on the BSE.