Citizens' Issues
PFC publishes investor data on the web, raising privacy concerns

PFC has published names, complete addresses, telephone or mobile numbers and email IDs of around 1.2 lakh individuals, which raises several questions of privacy and investor protection

In yet another instance that proves the government and its units are insensitive to issues of transparency and privacy, Power Finance Corp (PFC) has published complete data of its investors on the web. This too when, concerns are being raised about the government's unique identification (UID) program that not only collects detailed information, but also takes biometric data like iris and finger scans. This UID data is accessible for anyone who is associated with the UID Authority of India (UIDAI) as registrar.

In a stunning case of placing private data out in the public domain PFC, which collected money from investors for its infrastructure bonds, has published names, addresses, telephone or mobile numbers and email IDs of around 1.2 lakh individuals. The revelation of this data has angered several investors. "I was not aware of my personal data being uploaded on the website. This is a clear violation of my privacy," says a Mumbai-based investor.

This is surprising, especially when last year Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee rejected a proposal from National Intelligence Grid (NatGrid) to access details of all bank accounts. Mr Mukherjee, in a hand written note, had warned that intrusion into the privacy of bank depositors will discredit the banking system and people will start using other modes for securing their funds.

However, either PFC is not aware of the Finance Minister’s opinion or does not understand the difference between transparency in its operations and violating personal privacy.

Currently, the UIDAI is under heavy criticism on privacy issues, use of biometrics and the incentives being paid for enrolling more residents. Many voices have been raised against the forceful implementation of the UID project, with most objections focused on concerns over privacy. Advocate and activist Kamayani Bali Mahabal, who started petitioning Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh against UID scheme or Aadhaar, said, "Privacy law is still being made, and until it is in place, the UIDAI should not be doing what it is, and it certainly cannot be allowed to share information as it proposes to do under the 'information consent' clause in its form."

Although, the Constitution does not explicitly specify privacy rights, the Supreme Court in a landmark judgement (Unni Krishnan, J.P & Ors. Etc., versus State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors,) on 4 February 1993, had ruled that "This Court has held that several un-enumerated rights fall within Article (21) since personal liberty is of widest amplitude."

We sent a mail to PFC officials, who assured us that the mail has been forwarded to concerned department and they will act upon the issue at the earliest.

User

COMMENTS

Rajiv

6 years ago

Can someone give the URL where this data exists ?

R Nandy

6 years ago

Wonderful! The PFC data base is almost perfect. It only doesn't have the date of birth and marital status
of the Bond Holders. Those can easily be acquired by calling the Bond Holder and telling them that you are calling from PFC and gain their confidence by stating their PAN number. And, bingo you have the Date of birth. Please don't blame me for writing this,any identity thief knows this. :)

UID(Aadhar) is another wonderful project which is going on. It will institutionalize identity theft in India. Last week I was in the HAL II post office in Bangalore. The primitive way the enrollment was being handled with huge stacks of address/id proofs collected is baffling. No doubt a lot of them will end up being used in opening of new bank accounts to be used as money mules.

@Indira
PFC will not do anything unless you cause them a lot of pain either by lodging a FIR against the head or a PIL. And, Arora does have a point

indira jain

6 years ago

The number of comments to this post so far show the level of interest in privacy as an issue :-) 2 from arora , on from moneylife!

Find it hard to agree with the savage nastiness of Arora. As a reader, I am happy Moneylife has named names.
Also, as a tech person, I think it would take a few seconds for PFC's webmaster to disable the link. So why should it be Moneylife's responsibility not to name names?
Maybe Arora is from PFC and hence the irrational anger??
Glad she has rested her case and hopefully will keep it that way!
lage raho moneylife

REPLY

Hemant Bhatia

In Reply to indira jain 6 years ago

I agree with Arora & it is childish to say that if you disagree with ML you are from PFC. I also rest my case & you be glad again.

Alisha Arora

6 years ago

ML should have reported this matter responsibly, citing "a major sectoral finance company has violated shareholder privacy", instead of revealing the exact name of the company. Such kind of reportage, leads to readers and surfers, to visit the website, on your prompting.

PFC has erred greatly but ML has multiplied the damage insensibly.

Poor reporting standards at ML; sensationalism overtaking pragmatism.

Web editorial maturity was conspicuous by its absence, in this case.

REPLY

MLD

In Reply to Alisha Arora 6 years ago

We strongly disagree. without a name the report would have been meaningless and would have seen no action at all for the next few years!!!
As a responsible magazine, we called the PRO and urged him to respond. We hoped they would disable the link before we went public with the story. We told them we are doing public. If the company didn't wake up even then, you cannot hold us accountable.
If you want expemplary action, then dont tell us not to expose wrongdoing, instead file a complaint and ensure exemplary punishment for PFC so that it jolts others.

Alisha Arora

In Reply to MLD 6 years ago

Extent of damage was amplified by irresponsible reporting, when the objective was to protect the privacy of the undermined investors, and not to induce further damage.

Poor logic furnished with defiant denial of responsibility towards privacy of those affected juxtaposed with urge to do expose on errant company!

Public interest is undermined by corporate carelessness enlarged by journalistic blunder.

Whenever internet credit card data is exposed, the reputed international news reporting is done not by propagating the data leakage but just the news of it after ensuring blocking the leakage, with embargo till it is secured.

Jumping the gun might be for journalistic fun devoid of public interest principles !

Rest my case, no more posts to drive home the point, if you are determined to miss it :-(

Rambabu Shastri

6 years ago

Data privacy is only the privilege of the foreign national whose data gets processed by BPOs. The BPOs and Nasscomm have set up a DSCI organization that ensures they have good standards and practices to protect data. However, these bodies or standards have little or no focus on the data of Indian citizens. After all, there are so many of us, that a leakage of information of about a lakh or so individuals, does not make any difference on percentages of the whole population. The leakage is not just the PFC, but also the PCMC, MSEDL MTNL and other bodies who have taken to e-commerce and web-facing applications without any standards, directions or skills on information security. The situation will take ages to remediate in India and till then, the leakage of about 1 lakh customers information by the PFC is miniscule and too trivial to be of any consequence. The UIDAI is also being scuttled as there are ulterior political motives to ensure it does not happen.

Revised tatkal booking scheme is passenger friendly say experts

The Railways have reduced tatkal booking period to one day before the journey and also barred agents from booking tickets on the Internet from 8am to 10am

The Indian Railways have revised the Tatkal (urgent ticket booking) scheme, making it more ‘passenger-friendly’ by reducing the advance booking time to one day, excluding the journey date, from the earlier two days. The Railways also increased the booking time by one hour to 8am to 10am and has barred agents from booking tickets under the tatkal scheme over the Internet. The changes came into existence from Monday.

According to experts, these changes have been introduced following passengers’ complaints of not being able to book tatkal tickets mainly due to touts and agents who would book all the tickets immediately after the window was opened.

Passenger organisations have welcomed this move. Madhu Kotain, president, Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh, told Moneylife, that, “Tatkal was meant for emergency journeys. There is no logic in allowing booking such tickets three days prior to the journey. These new changes would benefit passengers  and curtail mischief of agents.”

The revised system will permit the passengers, to book maximum four tickets per PNR and tickets will be issued on producing identity proofs, from any one of the eight points mentioned by the Railways.

“The details of the identity proof will be captured by the system and indicated on the reserved tickets as well on the reservation chart. It will not be mandatory for the passenger(s) to go to the counter to book the Tatkal ticket, however, the proof will have to be sent in the aforementioned manner,” the Railway said in a statement.

Further there would be no refund given on the cancellation of confirmed Tatkal tickets, expect if such cancellation is due to cancellation of trains/late running of trains for more than 3 hours. However in case of partially confirmed tickets, refund will be given for waiting list passenger.

Subash Gupta, president, Mumbai Yatri Sangh, says, “Though the time has been reduced to one day, it will at least ensure that tickets can be booked. Earlier it was impossible to book the tickets due to agents’ mischief. These touts used to book tickets and then sell it at inflated prices. Overall these new rules are passenger friendly.”

The Railways say that “during the journey, the passenger, whose identity card number has been indicated on the ticket, will have to produce original proof of identity indicated on the ticket, failing which all the passengers booked on the ticket shall be treated as travelling without ticket and charged accordingly.”

User

COMMENTS

gopinath prabhu

6 years ago

I think the move of Railway Ministry is passenger unfriendly. Rather than addressing the root cause it is trying to solve the proximity cause.

How can I be denied my refund if I am not travelling. While Railways is free to charge me 100% of tatkal fees as cancellation charges, it is bound to refund me regular travel charges as I have not travelled.

The time limit extension barring agents is also unethical. What about people who do not have internet and live in places where there are no railway offices. How do they book tatkal ticket ?

A very simple and ideal solution would be making it mandatory for all passengers to carry a proof of identity (for tatkal and normal booking) which will curb impersonation. If curbing 1 hour could not curb impersonation how can 2 hours curb it ?

Brokering News: how much are you paying?

A though-provoking documentary on what the media feeds the masses

“When I see a movie getting good ratings, I go watch it. If it turns out to be bad, I lose Rs150 for the ticket. How does paid news affect me then?”

A member of the audience asked the panellists after the screening of the movie ‘Brokering News’ by Moneylife Foundation and vCitizens Action Network and MxM India. The movie was produced by Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT).

While there is no apparent serious affect on the likes of this gentleman except wasting a small amount of money; paid news is something that the masses should be wary of. The movie showed how, mass media, which is responsible for reporting correct information and mould public opinion; has started to act as mouthpiece of corporate houses, power lobbies and politicians—misleading the people and redirecting public opinion for their benefit.

Umesh Agarwal, director, has dealt with four aspects of paid news in his movies: sports, entertainment/movies, election coverage and business analysis/industry news.
Much of the movie revolves around the Press Council’s once suppressed report on paid news, which indicted many publishers and broadcasters of taking money for reporting on state assembly elections in 2004 and 2009; praising one candidate while maligning others; which had a significant effect on the voting results.

The movie started with how, every regional political party have started news channels to broadcast propaganda and praise themselves. Even national channels are not immune to paid news. Then there are movie/entertainment promotions that masquerade as news. Mr Agarwal showed how just before the release of the movie ‘Rann’, Amitabh Bachchan acted as the ‘editor’ of Star News. “The bad thing is that the channel did not flash any disclaimer that this was a promotion. And that is not acceptable for a news channel,” Mr Agarwal later said. Equally strange was seeing Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan debate on why a Muslim is not always a terrorist (!) just before the release of Kurban, which eventually tanked.

The most recognisable and repeated category is of course, sports. ‘Brokering News’ showed how channels offer ‘news packages’, which hype over sports events and matches which otherwise fail to generate interest. Even the most irrelevant events, like a five-day test between India and England see hours dedicated to speculation, commentaries, post-mortem and stock footage. The most glaring example is Sachin Tendulkar’s next century, which has become a morning fixture on all channels.

The most damaging aspect, probably, is that of skewed business analysis. Stock advices are often contradictory, shallow and confusing. There is no broad discussion which includes all sides and facts, and such programs are interested in pushing up stock prices of certain companies. A very interesting example is that of the Reliance ADAG deal with foreign telecom companies. For three consecutive days, newspapers announced ADAG’s tie-ups with three different companies, all of which denied the claims. “Isn’t there a pattern? Someone must look into it. The information is either cleverly ‘leaked out’ or the publishers are paid to publish such things to manipulate stock prices,” said Ms Sucheta Dalal, trustee of Moneylife Foundation, who also featured in the film.

Apart from interviewing journalists and media commentators, ‘Brokering News’ also talked about reporters and activists who have turned crusaders against the issue. But, like one such former correspondent of a Hindi daily said, “Often there is no documentary evidence on paid news, since most transactions are made in cash.”

The movie ended with emphasising the need for having a competent and independent regulatory authority for the media which can clamp down on erring channels and publishers and even penalise them; and also listed the numerous recommendations that the paid news report had made. After the screening, an interactive panel discussion on the various aspects followed, which ended in applause.

User

COMMENTS

S H Subrahmanian

6 years ago

True, the movie ended with emphasising the need for having a competent and independent regulatory authority for the media which can clamp down on erring channels and publishers and even penalise them; and also listed the numerous recommendations that the paid news report had made'.
High hopes rest with the new PCI Chairman Justice Katju. .
Also, repeated discussions on Bharat Ratna to Sachin Tendulkar to add to his kitty, worth Rs half-a-crore daily! I'm not against cricket. To my mind it's mere distraction for the poor Indians, while the oil rich UAE too has only 'infrequent fixtures'- 'among other nations' for them just to enjoy! Haven't we forgotten Dhyan Chand and Bhaskarans of our national game Hockey?

MLD

6 years ago

Afraid the video is not ours to share. However it is available for a paid purchase from PSBT's site. http://www.psbt.org - the public service broadcast trust has produced the film and has the rights.

best regards

Sucheta

REPLY

param

In Reply to MLD 6 years ago

Thanks for the tip. Surprisingly, once you click on Buy Films online, it does not feature on the home page at all. But then clicking on watch online throws 404 page not found!!!
Anyway here is the direct link for others:
http://www.synclinefilmstore.com/movies/... - I wish they could find a way to reduce the price from 550Rs. & make it more affordable to common people, which is the intended audience.

Jsan

6 years ago

Hi, can you upload this video on internet and share the with the users so others can also see this.

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