The Telangana Government is planning a database of residents in the state, which will include details like names, aliases, family details, addresses and information on various documents like Aadhaar cards, passports, and driving licenses, reports Telangana Today. The police have currently floated a tender for this, and are accepting proposals till next week.

The Hyderabad Police already have a such a database on the people in the city, which started off as a way find data on criminals, but is now also used by other government departments for security and to ensure compliance. For example, the department of civil supplies has been using it to weed out duplicate ration cards, the municipal corporation to identify tax defaulters, the social welfare department for comparing scholarship data etc.

The database, known as the Integrated People Information Hub (IPIH), sources its data from police records including information on arrested persons, offenders list, missing person reports, FIRs and case diaries etc, and from external sources like phone/power/water connections, tax payments, voter IDs, RTA license, registration data, e-challans, passports and terrorist records among others. The data is then combined and indexed to establish the identity and profile of a person, which is made available to authorities.

Such a database is a natural extension of the information government services already collect from citizens, and putting them in one place and coordinating them makes sense from the point of view of better administration. However, this comes with a significant privacy and security risk to citizens – especially when the accountability on who can access what information, and for what purposes, is not clear. Additionally, without a privacy policy, there is no clear liability in case of a data breach or a hack, compromising the data of all citizens in the state.