New Delhi: The Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) has revealed how the privacy of lakhs of students hailing from different education streams across the country is on sale, with vital contact information available to interested parties for a nominal amount. As per updates, a digital platform named ‘Shastri Nagar Charkya Puri’, and two websites, namely, “Students Database India” & “Students Database”, and shockingly a few government and school management officials have reportedly compromised the personal information of Class X and Class XII students across the country. The IFF this month has sent 32 representations to the State and Union Territory Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights in India and filed three Right to Information (RTI) requests with the Central Board of School Education (CBSE), National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and the Ministry of Education’s Department of School Education and Literacy.Also Read - ‘False Report’: CoWin Stores Vaccination Data In Secure Digital Environment, Centre Issues Clarification
It must be noted that the Ukhrul Times and Nagaland Express in June 2021 broke the news of ‘Shastri Nagar Charkya Puri’ retailing databases of Class 10 and 12 students. As per updates from Ukhrul Times, ‘Shastri Nagar Charkya Puri’ collated the personal data of students to create the ‘Bihar Student Database’, ‘Haryana Student Database’, and ‘Nagaland Student Database’. Ironically, e-commerce giant Amazon, which has over 100 million Indian users registered, facilitated ‘Shastri Nagar Charkya Puri’ in selling the databases priced at Rs. 299. Also Read - Cyber Security: 45% of Indian Online Users Hit by Local Threats in 2020
On the other hand, The Nagaland Express has also reported that Shastri Nagar Charkya Puri claims the data is “latest and verified”. Furthermore, the report also suggests that Shastri Nagar Charkya Puri and Amazon have not made any effort to inform the students whose privacy has been compromised. After many parents raised concerns and reported it to Amazon, then the link to purchase the student database was taken down. Also Read - Data of 10 Crore Indian Cardholders Selling on Dark Web, Claims Researcher; Juspay Confirms Breach
Apart from ‘Shastri Nagar Charkya Puri’, two other websites such as “Students Database” and “Students Database India” are also found to be selling the personal data of Indian students. The “Student Database” website has “record count” of the number of students whose data has been collated to prepare the database.
The IFF came to know that the All India Class XII CBSE 2020-21 batch’s record count was presented by the website and over 13,14,756 children’s personal information has been compromised. In addition to the All India databases, this website has also put up region-specific databases for sale, each of which provides “free samples” of the student data. Apart from this, the website has also provided sixteen student databases at no cost.
Proactive measures taken by IFF: Worried about the potential threats the database breach poses to the children’s safety and their right to privacy, the IFF on July 16 wrote to 28 State Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights and four Union Territory Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights to raise grievances.
The IFF has also urged the Commissions to initiate an inquiry on the infringing websites (“Students Database”, “Students Database India”), the vendor (Shastri Nagar Charkya Puri) and the e-commerce platform (Amazon) and to also forward the case to the Magistrate having the jurisdiction to hear the complaint. The IFF said the Commissions were also advised to frame and implement remedial measures and guidelines to prevent the leakage of students’ personal data henceforth.