Andhra Pradesh Tracked You As You Bought Viagra, Then Put Your Name and Phone Number on the Internet for the World to See

Gopal Sathe

Bengaluru — If you are the gentleman who bought Suhagra 50, a generic version of Viagra, and some Vomiford anti-nausea drops, on June 13 from a government-run Anna Sanjivini store in Anantpur in Rayalseema, your name, phone number and purchases, were listed on an Andhra Pradesh government website — until HuffPost alerted the authorities.

The link has since been taken down (you're welcome).

An unsecured dashboard on the Anna Sanjivini website allowed anyone with an internet connection to access the names and phone numbers of everyone who has bought medicines from every single such store, HuffPost has learnt.

This interface, discovered by security researcher Srinivas Kodali, contains thousands of pages of daily data and each order shows the Order ID, the Store Operator ID, Customer name, Customer phone number, details of the medicines, and the money paid.

This latest privacy breach, experts say, vividly illustrates how the head-long push to digitise everyday government processes has been accompanied by a blatant disregard for the privacy of citizens.

Andhra Pradesh's careless indifference to the confidentiality of medical data acquires significance in the context of the draft Digital Information Security in Healthcare Act (DISHA).

This act will enable the sharing of personal health records between patients, hospitals, and clinics. This means an exponential increase in the quantum of confidential data flowing between government departments, and private parties — raising the repercussions of future privacy breaches in every Indian state.

"Medications indicate the possible conditions a person or someone in their family may have," said Pam Dixon, founder and executive director of the World Privacy Forum. "This information can be especially sensitive when employers gain access, or even just neighbours who learn of a sensitive condition."

Medical conditions like AIDS and depression continue to carry a stigma in India; publishing such data, Dixon noted,...

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