India to set up digital locker authority for e-governance
Enthused by the response to the DigiLocker scheme, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government plans to set up an authority to maintain its digital locker system for efficient delivery of services to the citizens.
The scheme which garnered over 2 million registered users since the launch including 17,000 users under the age of 10 years, was started a year back under the government’s Digital India initiative for e-governance.
The authority, which is in the works, will licence and authorise service provider to offer digital locker portals, access gateways and repository facilities electronically, in accordance with the rules. It will also set up a digital locker directory, according to a note reviewed by InfraCircle.
The DigiLocker registration allows Indian citizens a shareable private space on a public cloud system wherein their documents and certificates can be accessed. Organisations that are registered with DigiLocker can provide electronic copies of documents and certificates such as driving licence, voter identification and school certificates directly to the citizen’s locker.
“This will reduce the administrative overhead of government departments by minimising the use of paper,” said a government official requesting anonymity.
The authority will also notify the fee or service charges which a subscriber will have to pay for availing the digital locker services from authorised service providers. Apart from DigiLocker, ICICI Bank Ltd operates digital locker services under the e-Locker brand and Gurgaon-based Next Gen Papers Solutions Pvt. Ltd operates its document management services under the Kleeto brand.
The scheme is expected to play an important role in helping citizens reduce the bureaucratic hassles with the number of Internet users in India expected to reach 730 million by 2020 compared with 350 million at the end of 2015.
The minister for electronics and information technology (IT) Ravi Shankar Prasad has directed the officials to fast track setting up of the authority. The initiative was first launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July 2015.
The first meeting of Digital Locker Advisory Group was held on 20 July and it was suggested that the Controller of Certifying Authorities may take up the role of the authority for regulation purposes. Also, Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification Directorate under the ministry of electronics and information technology may be made responsible for drafting and maintenance of specifications and audits, said the note.
Queries emailed to a spokesperson of ministry of electronics and information technology on 23 August remained unanswered.
The authority will also lay down standards, guidelines and specifications for authorised service provider as well as data retention and migration guidelines. A grievance redressal system will also be created along with security and privacy guidelines.
The authority will also have powers to give an opinion on suspension and revocation of a digital locker account of a subscriber in public interest for reasons specified in the rules, the note said.
Experts welcomed the move.
“Today, many people upload personal information and documents on platforms such as Google and DropBox which are cloud based platforms. And since, digital locker is a government initiative there will be adequate safeguards for security. It is a reliable and safe platform,” said Sidharth Vishwanath, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a consultancy.
The NDA government is working towards connecting its citizens. BharatNet, the government’s ambitious project to offer broadband connectivity to end-to-end users, plans to provide Internet connection at a speed of 100 megabits per second across 250,000 gram panchayats. The first phase will provide connectivity to 100,000 gram panchayats by March 2017, while in the second phase, around 150,000 gram panchayats will be connected by December 2018.
“There will be hiccups in the initial adoption but people look for convenience and through smartphones, it will be more convenient for people to access and upload information,” added Vishwanath.
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