You’re reading it here first: State Bank of India, Mercedes, ICICI Lombard and Bajaj Allianz are among the companies which purchased Vahan data, a government database of 25 crore vehicle registration records, managed by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. 127 private and 15 government entities have bought this data from the ministry, RTI documents obtained by MediaNama show. 30 public and private sector banks, 20 logistics solution providers, 19 finance organisations, 18 insurance organisations and 5 automobile manufacturers form the bulk of these 142 entities.

Between 2014-19, the government has pocketed over Rs 68 crore by selling this database; in 2019 alone, it has earned more than Rs 21 crore. Punjab National Bank, Citi Bank, Axis Bank and Yes Bank are among the 30 banks to have bought this data. Automakers like Volkswagen, Toyota and Nissan have also purchased it. BMW India Financial Services and Tata Finance are a few of the finance companies that have bought this data.

Here’s a year-wise breakdown of the money the government made by selling Vahan data:

Year Yearwise Amount received for providing access to information from National Register through Vahan
2014 Rs 600
2015 Rs 1.62 crore
2016 Rs 7.52 crore
2017 Rs 12.56 crore
2018 Rs 25.96 crore
2019 Rs 21.01 crore

Here’s the complete list of companies:

Serial no Name of Companies accessing information through National Register
1 Abhinav Transport Pvt. Ltd.
2 ACKO General Insurance Limited
3 Adhunik Transport Organization Pvt. Ltd.
4 Affinity Multisevices Pvt. Ltd
5 Allahabad Bank
6 Allcargo Logistics Ltd.
7 Andhra Bank
8 Associated Road Carriers Limited
9 Au Financiers India Limited
10 Axis Bank
11 Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Co.Ltd.
12 Bajaj Finance Limited
13 Bank Of India
14 Bank Of Maharastra
15 Bansal Credit Pvt Limited
16 Best Roadways Limited
17 Bharat Financial Inclusion Limited
18 BMW India Financial Services Pvt.Ltd.
19 BRD Securities Ltd.
20 Bussan Auto Finance India Pvt. Ltd.
21 Canara Bank
22 Capital First Limited
23 Cargo Exchange India Pvt. Ltd.
24 Chetak Logistics Limited
25 Cholamandalam Investment & Finance Co.Ltd.
26 Chola Ms Genral Insurance Co.Ltd.
27 Citi Bank
28 Clix Finance India Ltd.
29 CNH Industrial Capital Private Ltd.
30 Credit One Payment Solutions Pvt.Ltd.
31 Credit Wise Capital Private Ltd.
32 CTI Logistic Pvt.Ltd.
33 Daimler Financial Service India Pvt.Ltd.
34 DCB Bank
35 Decimun Financial Limited
36 De Lage Landen Financial Services India Pvt.Ltd
37 Dhanalakshmi Bank
38 DHFL General Insurance Ltd
39 DRS Dilip Roadlines Pvt.Ltd.
40 Equitas Small Finance Limited
41 ESS Kay Fincorp Limited
42 Express Roadways Private Ltd.
43 Family Credit Limited
44 Fateh Business House Pvt.Ltd
45 Fine Tech Corporation Pvt.Ltd
46 Ford Credit India Pvt.Ltd
47 Fortune Integrated Assets Finance Ltd.
48 Future General India Insurance Company Ltd.
49 Go Digit General Insurance Ltd.
50 Gove Finance Limited
51 GTR Logistics Pvt.Ltd.
52 HDB Financial Services Ltd.
53 HDFC Bank Ltd.
54 HDFC ERGO General Insurance Company Ltd.
55 Hero Fin Corp
56 Highway Trans Service Pvt.Ltd.
57 Hinduja Leyland Finance Limited
58 Home Credit India Finance Private Limited
59 ICICI Bank Limited
60 ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Ltd.
61 IDFC Bank Limited
62 India Infoline Financial Ltd.
63 Indo Farm Equipment Limited
64 Indusind Bank
65 Ing Vysya Bank
66 Jangid Motors
67 JFC Leasing Pvt.Ltd.
68 JKM Trans Solutions Pvt.Ltd.
69 John Deere Financial India Pvt.Ltd.
70 Kanak Durga Finace Limited
71 Karnataka Bank
72 Khusbhu Auto Finance Ltd.
73 K M Trans Logistics Pvt.Ltd.
74 Kogta Financial (India) Limited
75 Kotak Mahindra Bank
76 Liberty Videocon General Insurance co.Ltd.
77 Loanzen Finance Pvt.Ltd.
78 L&T Financial Services
79 Magma HDI General Insurance Company Ltd.
80 Maharastra Freight Carriers Pvt.Ltd.
81 Mahaveer Finance India Ltd.
82 Mahindra and Mahindra Finacial Services Ltd
83 Manappuram Finance Ltd
84 Mas Financial Services Ltd.
85 Max Pacific Corporation Limited
86 Mercedes-Benz India Private Limited
87 Muthoot Capital Services Ltd.
88 Nissan Motor India Private Ltd.
89 Nissan Renault Financial Services Pvt.Ltd
90 Ola Fleet Technologies Pvt.Ltd
91 Orange Retail Finance India Private Ltd.
92 Oriental Bank Of Commerce
93 Orix Leasing and Financial Service Pvt.Ltd.
94 PBL Transport Corporation Private Ltd.
95 P.K.Leasing and Finance Ltd
96 Premier Logistics
97 Punjab National Bank
98 Ravi Fincrop Ltd.
99 RBL Bank Ltd.
100 Reliance General Insurance Co.Ltd.
101 Royal Sundaram Alliance Insurance Co.Ltd.
102 Saizar Enterprise Pvt.Ltd.
103 Sakthi Finance Pvt.Ltd.
104 SBI General Insurance Co.Ltd.
105 Seva Shree Logistics LLP
106 Shree Roadways Ltd.
107 Shriram City Union Finance Ltd.
108 Shriram General Insurance Co.Ltd.
109 Shri Ram Transport Finance Company Ltd.
110 Srei Equipment Finance Limited
111 Standard Chartered Global Business Service Pvt.Ltd
112 State Bank Of Bikaner and Jaipur
113 State Bank Of Hyderabad
114 State Bank Of India
115 State Bank Of Patiala
116 State Bank Of Travancore
117 Sundaram Finance Limited
118 Suryoday Small Finance Bank Limited
119 Sustainable Agro-Commercial Finance Ltd.
120 Syndicate Bank
121 Tata AIG General Insurance Co.Ltd.
122 Tata Capital Financial Services Ltd.
123 Tata Motor Finance Ltd.
124 Textile Traders Co-Operative Bank Limited
125 The Banaskantha Mercantile Co-op Bank Ltd.
126 The New India Assurance Company Limited
127 The Oriental Insurance Company Limited
128 The Saraswat Co-Operative Bank Ltd
129 The Vaish Co-Operative Adarsh Bank Ltd
130 TIL Limited
131 Toyota Financial Services India
132 Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt.Ltd
133 Trans IQ Technologies Pvt.Ltd
134 Transunion CIBIL Limited
135 Tvs Credit Services Limited
136 Union Bank Of India
137 United India Insurance Co.Ltd.
138 UP Telelinks Limited
139 Volkswagen India Pvt.Ltd.
140 Volvo Financial Service Pvt.Ltd.
141 Wheels EMI Private Ltd.
142 Yes Bank Limited

Some questions

What’s in the Vahan database? As discussed above, Vahan contains data of 25 crore vehicle registrations. However, it is unclear as to what kinds of details are available in this database, along with Sarathi which is a 15 crore strong database drivers’ licenses (also up for sale). Does the government redact personal identifiers from this database? Is there any measure in place to ensure that entities don’t use this data to specifically target unsuspecting individuals? This database can potentially be used for predatory insurance for some individuals – it can result in insurance cost going up for them.

What data exactly did they get access to? This isn’t clear. Is there more to the Vahan database than just the vehicle colour, chassis number, fuel type and dealer?

What about consent? It is also unclear if the government has sought explicit consent from vehicle owners before selling their data to banks and financial institutions. Mind you, all this is happening in the absence of a proper data protection law – the fate of which still remains unclear.

How did the government decide on the price of the database? A thing to note here is that Road Transport minister, Nitin Gadkari had said that for the financial year 2019-20, Vahan and Sarathi database is up for sale for Rs 3 crores. First, does that mean that these prices are subject to year-on year changes? And second, how did the government determine that this would be the right amount to sell people’s vehicle and driving license data.

How can this data potentially be used? A twitter user @raggedtag posted a picture where Amazon showed her that a particular product would fit her vehicle. The user asked how Amazon might have known what car she drove.

How could it have happened? Amazon had her phone number, which she might have also used during her vehicle’s registration, so Amazon could have had purchased that data from the Road Transport ministry. Alternatively, she could have searched Amazon for products related to that vehicle, and it could have been in their records.