File photo of a ration shop.

Chennai: In a major breach of privacy, the official website of Tamilnadu government’s Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection Department has published ration card details like phone numbers, address and card numbers in public and anyone with an Internet connection can obtain them.

When News Today contacted the toll free number of the PDS department to bring this issue to light, they had no idea that this was a breach of privacy and said it has always been on display.

By going into the ‘PDS reports’ page on the website, consumers are shown district-wise details of the number of card-holders. After choosing the district and the taluk, the users are taken to the ‘Taluk Information’ page displaying shop codes and the shop in-charge of each PDS centre in the taluk.

Clicking on the shop number leads to another page with transactions, commodity details and public grievances details, etc.

By clicking on the ‘Public Grievances’ button, complaints raised by consumers against the fair price shops and their in-charge have been published openly on the website. But along with this, the ration card number of the person who has raised the issue has also been published and anyone can see them.

Moreover, the address of the card-holders could also be obtained through the website by clicking on the number of cards under each shop in the ‘Taluk Information’ page. From there, all one has to do is to tap on the search ration card button, put in the details and the address of the card-owners will be displayed.

A data privacy expert said, “This is a major oversight by the government. By displaying the grievances raised by the public along with their information such as address, you are putting them at risk. The shop in-charge against whom the complaint was raised can also see the information and this may sometimes lead to arguments or even worse.”