Invisible Threats- How secure is Digital Health ID?

National Digital Health Mission: The emergence and expansion of a digital state which increasingly driven to an automated control system, it can also morph into a complete surveillance to target and punish people.

ByTakhellambam Donel

Updated 14 Sept 2020, 1:07 pm

(Representational Image: Pexels)
(Representational Image: Pexels)

Digital Health ID, under the name (National Digital Health Mission), a complete digital health database of all citizens being drafted will not only contain sensitive personal health data of patients. Such data will include person's Aadhar number or mobile number, political views, bank and financial information, physiological, mental health, sex married or unmarried, DNA, caste/tribe, and religion etc. This ID will also contain your details of every test, every disease, the doctors, pharmacy you visited, the medicines you took and the diagnosis. All this integrated data can also access to anywhere through mobile App by clinics, doctors or whosoever with consent of the person.

He Who Controls Data Controls The Future

“The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” - Eric Schmidt former CEO of Google. This makes well deserved suspicion that if the policy is about our health or a new surveillance tool masquerading as digital healthcare for all.

If individuals are looking to benefit from government schemes, then they will be required to connect their ID to their Aadhar. It's a voluntary registration for the initial phase, but like Aadhar it may soon become mandatory for all citizens to register. Also, Patients will not fully aware or informed about how their data are being used. The emergence and expansion of a digital state which increasingly driven to an automated control system, it can also morph into a complete surveillance to target and punish people.

For corporations and pharmaceutical companies, such comprehensive, integrated forms of medical data are considerably more valuable than any findings, samples in their billions dollars sponsored R&D. It holds a huge potential economic value. But if that value is reached in the hands of third parties or corporations, it will be enormously lost to us because unlike debit/credit card  which can be quickly blocked or cancelled in situations of hacked and stolen, health information remains useful to those who posses it.

Once personal patient’s sensitive data is stolen or revealed, little can be done to change or delete it from internet and those who posses it legally or illegally. Cambridge Analytica was one of the examples of what can happen when your data is into hands of wrong person or access by third party. Anthem Inc. data leak, the largest healthcare hack in history, in which more than 37 million data records were stolen.

Since it can  be accessible through mobile App, mobile health apps are also at risk for stolen information because of its  extremely private information and well integrated lifelong medical histories of users. Government's control over personal data of citizen's, digitized integrated health ID (data), including person's DNA, political views, religion, caste, physical, financial info, has the potential to be misused for any purpose. Who knows, it may also end up being used by the multi corporations for new drugs trials because it has BILLION DOLLARS potential for use in trials of new drug.

"Any device, cell phone can be Hacked"-NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.


"Any intelligence service  or tech team can own that phone the minute it connect to their network,  as soon as turn on, it can be theirs, they can turn into a microphone, take picture from it, can take the data off, make  records of every movement you make"-Edward Snowden.

"At the end of the day, everything is hackable. What I am surprised about is that people sometimes forget that it’s so easy to hack into these devices,”-Adi Sharabani, former IBM security software and co-founder of Skycure.

"Average person doesn't read full terms of services, privacy policy" Mark Zuckerberg. Users are required to agree their terms and service, before you proceed or setting up account whatever it may be. Yes, you do have options, it says you agree with their terms and services, but if you don't agree, you can't use the service so conditioning users (us) have to agree in order to access services.

The process of gathering your personal data is being made so complex in order to make you difficult to understand, too long to read, impossible to remember and lacks transparency, thus you become the main source of weapons, profit for those who exploit it, all your data are not yours anymore once you agree.

Everyone with smartphone is a part of the bulk data collection, mass surveillance. Your phone is constantly connected to the nearest cellular tower, every time you use it, your whole activity is being recorded through the radio frequencies sent to the cellular tower, one might think that this might happen only when the smartphone is on.

As radio frequencies are invisible you can't see that your device being off is still working, means it keeps on sending data about your whole activity, geo-location to cellular tower through unique identification number IMEI this means permanent record is being made about you to create bulk collection of data in other word this is how the mass surveillance works and collecting data in advance for future use.

Normal people don't know what permissions apps or web portal has or what it's connecting to, people believe that only your data is being exploited reality is that the ones being actually exploited are you(us).This is not about data, this is about you, your rights that are being exploited.

Moreover, from experience of Aadhaar’s biometric data collection and its security concerns at its initial phase, raises skepticism on ensuring the quality of registration and safety of data records. Such mistakes and misuses might cause more damage than providing good health for its citizens.

The True Picture of Rural Healthcare Infrastructure


India is being the world's second most populous country with an estimated population of 1.3 billion, digitizing every citizens health records are very expensive, cost millions of dollars and  may put burden on the country’s economy, which is already facing a deep down, contracted to minus 23.9% of its GDP Growth (April-June quarter-2020).

India's spending on the public healthcare is just 1.5 per cent of the country’s GDP, which is one of the lowest compared to the other countries’ that has the best digital healthcare systems in the world. India's per capita public expenditure on healthcare is around Rs. 1,900=25 dollars per person in 2020.

According to OECD data, the average for countries healthcare expenditure in 2018 was 8.8% of GDP. Nations such as—the US (16.9%), Germany (11.2%), France (11.2%) and Japan (10.9%), UK 9%, Canada and Australia is around 8% and 6.3% (data may vary).

In rural areas of India, many villagers died before they reach the nearest healthcare centre due to non-availability of basic healthcare facility and improper functioning of the govt dispensary, district hospitals. A large part of the rural areas is only accessible by non-motorable hilly, rough terrain road, boat etc., many of these villages still lack electricity, internet access, and road connectivity. In remote areas of Manipur, villagers often carry the pregnant woman on backs/shoulders Piggyback or bamboo Stretcher and walk 80km to reach nearest hospital, who is in need of emergency healthcare for delivery. Another hurdle is the city born and educated medical professionals are not willing to work in rural areas.


Without a sufficient healthcare budget and improving existing public healthcare infrastructure and enough human resources through research and development in the healthcare sector, it couldn’t achieve its goal. Priority should be on building accessible, affordable and well-developed healthcare infrastructure.

 "These are the things that nobody wants us to know everybody needs to know. We wouldn't know about any of these if we wouldn't be willing to take risk to tell the public what is being hidden"-Edward Snowden.

Everyone has the right to freedom of speech and opinion. It embraces free speech, opinion, free press, receipt of ideas, information, and inform it to others.

(The views expressed is personal)


First published:


National Digital Health Missiondigital health ID

Takhellambam Donel

Takhellambam Donel

Delhi based independent analyst. He analyses and shares designed beliefs and thoughts on a deeper level. He is an alumnus of Delhi University and Ambedkar University


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