Health IDs in India: Voluntary or Mandatory?


In January 2021, the Indian Health Ministry officially allowed Aadhaar-based authentication when creating a UHID for identification and authentication of beneficiaries for various health IT applications promoted by the Ministry. This enabled the Co-Win portal, which is used to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments, to accept Aadhaar for authentication. As per Clause 2a of Co-Win’s privacy policy, “If you choose to use Aadhaar for vaccination, you may also choose to get a Unique Health ID (UHID) created for yourself.” The privacy policy stresses the voluntary nature of this process by stating that “This feature is purely optional.”

However, multiple media reports have mentioned that beneficiaries who have enrolled in the COVID-19 vaccination programme using their Aadhar number have had their UHIDs created without either obtaining their specific consent or being given the option to opt out. This is concerning as this done has been done based on the data entered by citizens and is linked to their Aadhaar, despite clarifications from the Government that Aadhaar is not mandatory for getting a UHID. It is also pertinent to note that the Co-Win website did not have a privacy policy until it was directed to publish one by the Delhi High Court on 2 June 2021 — almost three months after registration on Co-Win was made mandatory.

Source: Centre for Internet & Society
Writter: Pallavi Bedi