UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis | 7 February 2022

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What the article is about?

  • Talks about the need, concerns and way ahead for health data retention as per the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission(ABDM)

Syllabus: GS-II Government policies and interventions for the development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission:

  • It aims to provide digital health IDs for all Indian citizens to help hospitals, insurance firms, and citizens access health records electronically when required.
  • National Health Authority (NHA) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; is the implementing agency. 

Health Data Retention Plan

  • Need for such a policy:
    • To create a National Digital Health Ecosystem that supports Universal Health Coverage in an efficient, accessible, inclusive, affordable, timely and safe manner, through the provision of a wide range of data, information and infrastructure services ensuring the security, confidentiality and privacy of health-related personal information.
  • Impact on privacy:
    • Privacy is a fundamental right and any interference into the right might pass a 4 part test:
      • Legality; Legitimate aim; Proportionality; Appropriate safeguards.
      • Here legality becomes a concern considering the legal standing and authority of the NHA- regarding healthcare providers
  • Benefits:
    • The aim of data retention is described in terms of benefits to individuals and the public at large.
      • Individual benefits: Greater convenience and choice, created through portability of health records.
      • Broader Public benefits: Research and innovation
  • Risks:
    • Globally, legal systems consider health data sensitive to handle and improper disclosure can expose a person to significant harms
    • Privacy risks: Since as per Indian laws if individual rights are curtailed due to anticipated benefits; they much be clearly defined and identifiable.
      • Extend to which data will be collected – personally identifiable information
    • Extend to which data will be stored, used and transferred
    • Data jurisdiction and validation

Way Ahead:

  • A rigorous process should be there to identify the most suitable data retention plan.
  • Anonymise data that is being retained for research and others to be deleted.
  • Informed consent of individual and time limit for data retention.
  • Need to comply with the data protection law, once it's adopted.


  • A use-based classification for data retention with adequate provision for anonymisation or deletion of other data will provide a suitable ecosystem for ABDM.

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