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DMRC launches first FASTag-enabled parking facility; Experts raise concerns over lack of regulations

The provision for paying through FASTags is currently only applicable for four-wheelers with a limited capacity of 55 vehicles.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) launched the country’s first FASTag-enabled parking facility on Tuesday, the Hindustan Times reported. The launch of the facility marks a new use case for the cashless toll-collection mechanism that was made mandatory for all vehicles from February 16, 2021.

Pranesh Prakash, the co-founder of the Bengaluru-based Centre for Internet and Society, told MediaNama that while the extended scope of FASTag itself isn’t a problem, the question remains how data related to FASTags is governed.

Who can park at the facility?

According to the report, only four-wheelers bearing FASTags will be allowed to park at the facility near the Kashmere gate metro station, through which both entry and exit payments will be carried out. Meanwhile, two-wheelers will be allowed to pay the charges via UPI. The parking lot can accommodate 55 four-wheelers and 174 two-wheelers.

Mangu Singh, DMRC chief said that the cashless parking facility was being taken up as a pilot project. “After observing the response, we will plan similar systems at more parking facilities at our stations,” he said.  The report adds that provisions will be made at a later stage for commuters to use their Delhi Metro smart card and the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC).

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What are FASTags? FASTags are based on a radio-frequency identification (RFID) system and were initially rolled out in 2014 for faster toll payments in the Golden Quadrilateral between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Through RFID scanners at toll booths, they enable toll deduction through auto-debits from the driver or vehicle owners’ bank account. FASTags are prepaid rechargeable tags affixed on the windshield of vehicles and connected to the users’ bank account or to an NHAI prepaid wallet to facilitate the quick deduction.

Concerns over lack of regulation

Ambiguity on what data is stored

Prakash also said that there is ambiguity on-

  • What data is stored or what data is generated.
  • What data is stored subsequent to a transaction.
  • Where the data is stored – whether it is centralised or decentralised.

According to Prakash, “While FASTags have been made mandatory under the Motor Vehicles Act there is currently no law which regulates access to the data generated through the FASTag – now that is a problem.”

Further, he said that, contrary to the consultation process for Aadhaar, no whitepapers or technical details about FASTags were made public. Lastly, Prakash mentioned that in the absence of a data protection bill, there isn’t any purpose limitation clause (restricting the use of collected data beyond the stated purpose) that could govern FASTags.

The status of India’s data protection bill

A data protection bill has been scheduled to come into effect in India since 2017 when former Lok Sabha MP Baijayant Panda first introduced it as the Data (Privacy and Protection) Bill. The latest version of the Personal Data Protection Bill is currently under consideration by a joint parliamentary committee which has sought time until the upcoming monsoon session to submit their report.

In April this year, FASTag was made mandatory for all vehicles seeking third-party insurance and wanting a fitness certificate. Previously, it was only mandatory for four-wheelers bought before December 2017. Two-wheelers are still exempt from these mandates. The government is also currently conducting a pilot project to test the feasibility of a GPS-based toll collection system.

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Written By

I cover health and education technology for MediaNama. Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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