Indian Railways asked to consider withdrawing tender for consultant to monetize customer data

Indian Railways Said to Consider Withdrawing Tender for Consultant to Monetise Customer Data

Indian Railways has floated a tender to hire a consultant to monetize its passenger and freight customer data with an aim to generate revenue of up to Rs 1,000 crore, but sources told PTI that privacy issues It can be withdrawn amid concerns. While on social media, many, including advocacy groups, have raised concerns over the breach over data privacy issues, government sources have clarified that the advisor will advise the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) on steps to improve its existing business. and formulate strategy for monetization. future opportunities.

While the Indian Railways has not officially commented on the tender, highly placed sources told PTI that “given the fact that the Data Protection Bill has not been finalized, it will be withdrawn.”

As per the tender document, the data to be studied would include information captured by various public applications of the transporter such as “name, age, mobile number, gender, address, e-mail id, class of travel, payment mode, login or .password” and other details.

IRCTC has over 100 million users, of which 75 million are active users.

The document also states that once finalised, the consultant will be provided with the details of the applications for the study of ‘Monetization of Digital Data of Indian Railways’ and the data collected thereon.

The consultant will study vendor related data from passenger, freight and parcel businesses of Indian Railways such as PRS, NGET, NTES, UTS, Rail Madad, FOIS, TMS, e-CRM and PMS as well as applications. Like IREPS, VMS and IPAS.

The document titled ‘Scope of work for Project A: To study the monetization of digital data of Indian Railways (IR)’ states that the consultant will be provided access to a digital data system that will be able to track the behavior of passengers like flow, class, etc. generate related data. Frequency of Journey, Frequency of Journey, Time of Journey, Time of Booking, Age Group & Gender, Payment Mode, Number of Destinations and Booking Mode.

The objective of the exercise is to leverage its data assets and market position to drive strong growth in revenue for IRCTC. The document states that this can be achieved by improving the customer experience, expanding the portfolio of products being offered to customers and/or developing new business lines and partnerships.

“IRCTC envisages revenue generation potential of Rs 1,000 crore through monetization of its digital assets. IRCTC seeks to engage a consulting firm to help identify, design and develop data monetization opportunities and roll-out Is.”

While the railways is yet to respond officially, sources close to the development said that IRCTC “does not sell its data and has no intention of doing so”. He said the consultant is being hired to advise IRCTC on steps to improve its current business and formulate a strategy to monetize its future business. It will also focus on how IRCTC can embrace new business opportunities.

“IRCTC will also develop new business on its own platform and will require assistance from market leaders. IRCTC does not store any financial data of its customers on its end, as at the time of online payment for its various services. The control is passed on to the respective payment gateway or bank for payment,” the sources said.

The document also states that the consultant will study various enactments or laws including the IT Act, 2000 and its amendments, the General Data Protection Regulation and user data privacy laws including the current ‘Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018’ and, accordingly, digital assets. Propose a business model for monetization of

The Advisor will also prepare a roadmap for data monetization of digital data collected in various customer-facing and vendor-related applications involving Zonal Railways, Divisions and other entities like CRIS and PSUs like IRCTC and RailTel.

Listed tasks for the appointed consultant include segregation of monetizable data sets, identification of market potential internationally and preparation of a roadmap for data monetization of digital data.

Internet Freedom Foundation, a Delhi-based non-governmental organization advocating for digital rights and freedoms, has raised concerns over the tender and in a series of tweets underscored its pitfalls.

“Hey rail passengers, your data will soon be monetized by the government. And that too, in the absence of a data protection law! … The goal of maximizing profits will result in more incentives for data collection, the principles of data minimization.” and objective limits. Past experiences from misuse of vehicle databases raise the fear of mass surveillance and security risks,” it said.

The NGO said, “The government-controlled monopoly IRCTC should not give priority to the distorted business interests over the rights and interests of citizens. And considering the recent withdrawal of the Data Protection Bill, 2021, such monetization becomes even more worrying.” “


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