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NIC is rolling out vehicle tracking modules: here’s some food for thought

Tracking, license registration, traffic fine management and pollution control for public vehicles will soon be digital. But is data and privacy safe?

What is the news? The National Informatics Centre, the department tasked with developing and implementing IT systems in other Central and state government departments, has, in association with the transport ministry, come up with  four new digital initiatives related to vehicle tracking, license registration, traffic fine management and pollution control as part of its 75th Independence Day programme. Why this matters? Tracking public service vehicles does not encroach on personal information and can turn out to be a good move for the government, provided that the local authorities are seen as equal stakeholders in the initiatives. Some of the primary uses could be to check for rash driving, reduce corrupt practices among bus and taxi drivers (which end up losing the local government lakhs in revenue), or calculate actual petrol consumption over a period. However, questions arise when considering who will be owning this data and if it could be sold or viewed by the private sector which could lead to predatory pricing across various services (such as insurance or even cab aggregators). Concerns also arise when considering that driving licenses which contain personal data would also be made online as part of the same overarching initiative. The new initiatives under this programme are listed below: Vehicle Location Tracking System (VLTS): "In the interest of public safety, the Government of India has mandated equipping all public vehicles with vehicle location tracking devices," the NIC said in its announcement. As per the Motor Vehicles Act, the term "public service vehicle" covers "any…

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