National Health Authority seeks Aadhaar data to identify health insurance recipients

The National Health Authority (NHA) requested Aadhaar and other details of the beneficiaries under the National Food Safety Act (NFSA), in a letter sent to the director of the Department of Food and Health. public distribution (DoFPD) on January 5. The Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) requires it to be mapped with Aadhaar and NFSA data to identify beneficiaries under AB-PMJAY (State Health Insurance Scheme), the CEO of the NHA, RS Sharma, in letter.

Subsequently, the DoFPD Director urged states and union territories to share this data with the NHA using API integration. However, several state governments were reluctant to do so, due to confusion over whether Aadhaar data can be shared freely within government departments, according to minutes of a meeting between the NHA and the Unique. Identificatory Authority of India (UIDAI) held on 4th January. National Computing Center, Ministry of Computing and DoPFD also attended the meeting. The NHA has refuse any reservations among States on this issue, stating that “the process of sharing databases has already started in several States/UTs”.

In October last year, UIDAI authorized central government departments to share masked Aadhaar information among themselves for similar identification of beneficiaries under different schemes. Privacy advocates have expressed concerns, saying this could lead to the creation of family databases and, therefore, the reuse of collected data for other purposes.

Questions about sharing hidden Aadhaar data

NFSA ration card data from 18 states is already being shared with the NHA to identify recipients over the past 18 months, DoPFD officials said at the meeting. In an attempt to convince the remaining states to share the data, NHA Deputy Director General Vipul Aggarwal requested the following clarifications regarding the sharing of masked Aadhaar data:

Which authority should collect consent? UIDAI said it would prefer that the ministry/department that first collected the data asks for consent from the beneficiaries. However, noting that the DoFPD had expressed difficulty in obtaining such consent, the UIDAI added that the NHA could also do so.

Advertising. Scroll to continue reading.

At what stage must consent be obtained? The UIDAI stated that consent must be collected at the time of delivery of services, goods, etc.

How should consent be collected? On the mechanism for taking consent, Aggarwal asked why consent could not be presumed in the event of a recipient not responding to a text message for the same, as the Income Tax Department does. The UIDAI did not answer his question directly and simply referred to its October memo which stated that consent could be collected via a physical “no objection certificate” or in electronic form via an e-mail. mail, message or similar form placed on the website of the user ministry/department.

Problems with cross-departmental sharing of Aadhaar data

The October memo from the UIDAI cited court judgments that recognized different ministries and departments as a single unit, namely the “central government”, as grounds for allowing inter-ministerial sharing of the last four digits of an Aadhaar number and certain demographic data. This raised the following concerns:

Allows to take the consent in a preventive way: “This circular will allow ministries to reuse data collected for a particular purpose because they already hold it. It’s fishy,” said Srikanth Lakshmanan, a tech activist. He also raised concerns about the appendix to the form being allowed to be put on a website for the collection of consent by a department for future purposes. “It’s a bit problematic because you’re allowing this agency to use your data for a future thing that you know nothing about, like you’re signing a blank check,” Lakshmanan said.

Privacy issues: Sharing masked Aadhaar data in addition to demographics didn’t make sense, Lakshmanan said, because it’s almost like sharing the entire data set. “It’s a pretty unique data set even if you don’t have all 12 digits,” he said. Lakshman also noted that the timing of the memo was “interesting” as it was released just before the joint parliamentary committee report on the data protection bill was tabled in parliament. He suggested that the intention seemed to be to allow and incentivize government ministries/departments to share data freely before the data protection law came into force. He also pointed out that the Aadhaar law has purpose limitations built into its framework.

Creation of the state family database: According to researcher Srinivas Kodalli, the move could be an attempt to create a family database as part of the state family database (SFDB). SFDB is a data integration and exchange platform which is meant to be an all-in-one database used in different state government departments to maintain records of different types. Tamil Nadu and Haryana are some of the states currently working on such a database.

Advertising. Scroll to continue reading.

Read also :

Do you have something to add ? Post your comment and give someone a MediaNama subscription.

Comments are closed.