The first suggestion for sharing of community data that serves larger public interest came in the draft e-commerce policy, introduced in February this year.
Building on that premise, the Economic Survey explained how the cost of per gigabyte of storage has dropped from Rs 61,050 in 1981 to less than Rs 3.48 today, and data analytics has grown as a much sought-after field.
Given that the cost of disseminating data over the internet is also negligible, with mobile data and broadband becoming increasingly affordable, the Survey has proposed connecting citizen data across ministries and departments into one comprehensive database.
The white paper that was floated by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, before the draft Personal Data Protection Bill, spoke about issues concerning the unregulated collection and use of data by private entities and the government alike.
“Some of the concerns relate to centralisation of databases, profiling of individuals, increased surveillance, and a consequent erosion of individual autonomy,” the paper had noted.
However, the government’s thinking on the issue of data has evolved in the past couple of years.
The Survey cites the example of Telangana government’s Samagra Vedika initiative. “The initiative links around 25 existing government datasets using a common identifier — the name and address of an individual. Seven categories of information about each individual were linked in this aggregation exercise — crimes, assets, utilities, subsidies, education, taxes, and identity information. Each individual was then further linked to relatives such as spouse, siblings, parents, and other known associates,” it said.