Making sensitive personal data of all citizens available to private insurance and pharmaceutical companies under the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) is a “serious breach of protection of personal data”, Sitaram Yechury, the General Secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist), wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Yechury further urged the prime minister to postpone the finalisation of the NDHM and the Health Data Management Policy (HDMP), until after the Joint Parliamentary Committee has concluded its deliberations on the Personal Data Protection Bill. The Deccan Herald first reported on this letter.
In the letter that was sent on August 31, Yechury asked for an extension and pointed out:
- The government has “strangely” solicited comments on HDMP in isolation and not on NDHM as a whole.
- The proposed HDMP makes no reference to the Personal Data Protection Bill that is being deliberated upon by a Joint Parliamentary Committee.
- The proposed HDMP has provisions that “amount to a serious dilution of the essence of the Bill”.
- Since both houses of the Parliament have been convened to meet on September 14, the Parliament should discuss both the Mission and the Policy as it discusses the Personal Data Protection Bill.
Since the letter was sent, along with several requests from the civil society, the deadline to submit comments has been extended to September 10 instead of the previous September 3. It was released on August 25 and thus initially gave citizens only 10 days to respond.