Home > NEWS HUB > India is forcing its citizens, unlike any other democratic country, to use Aarogya Setu, a coronavirus contact tracing app.

India is forcing its citizens, unlike any other democratic country, to use Aarogya Setu, a coronavirus contact tracing app.

Indian forces to use aarogya setu

India launched Aarogya Setu, a coronavirus contact tracing app, in early April. Prime Minister Narendra Modi boosted it on the release by urging every on in the country to download and use it. Consequently, within two weeks of launch, it became the fastest app ever to reach 50 millions downloads.

India is the only democratic country in the world to make its contact tracing app mandatory for millions of people.

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Installing Of Aarogya Setu App

The downloading of app is supposedly voluntary but the truth is that every government employees are required to use it.  Major private employers and landlords are mandating app usage.

The city of Noida is found fining and threatening to arrest anyone who doesn’t install the app on their phone.

“If people download it instantly, we will let them go. We are doing this so that people take the order seriously and download it. But if they do not download it after repeated warnings, we will have to take action,”

said Akhilesh Kumar, DCP Law and Order.

Not having the Aarogya Setu app has been made a punishable offence by Noida Police.

It is a dramatic step generating stern criticism from civil liberties experts within the territory, and also from all over the world.

About Aarogya Setub App

India’s coronavirus tracking app is unique in many ways. Most of the countries are developing limited services that use Bluetooth or GPS to give “exposure notifications” to people who have interacted with someone found to have COVID-19. However, Aarogya Setu app- is an all-in-one undertaking app that far exceeds what most other countries are building. It not only tracks Bluetooth contact events and location like many others apps do but also gives each of its user a color-coded badge showing infection risk. Also, Aarogya Setu also offers access to an e-pharmacy, telemedicine and diagnostic services. It is also whitelisted by all Indian telecom companies which means using Aarogya Setu app does not cost you any mobile data.

What makes India’s Aarogya Setu App as, a coronavirus contact tracing app, so different from other country’s similar apps is that it is not open source and India has no national data privacy law. It is not clear who has access to data from the app and in what situations. The list of developers of Aarogya Setu is largely made up of private sector volunteers, i.e. it is not entirely public.

Arnab Kumar, who is leading the development of the service for the Indian government, says that the app was built to the standards of draft data privacy bill that is in the country’s parliament at this time and says access to the data it collects is strictly controlled.

The app is not completely transparent as it should be. Neither privacy policy not the terms of service for the app were publicly accessible at the time of publication and developers have not shared them depited the requests. Since the app is not open source, its code and methods can’t easily be reviewed by the third parties and there is no public sunset clause stating when the app will cease to be mandatory. Though Kumar says data is deleted on a rolling basis after 60 days max for sick ad 30 days for healthy persons. There is no clear information on how far Indian governments will go. One of recent report said the government plans Aarogya Setu preinstalled on all new smartphones.

Rahul Gandhi, a former leader of the opposition Indian National Congress, is among those who have criticized the app, charging that it has “no institutional oversight” and raises “serious data security and privacy concerns.”

“Technology can help keep us safe,” Gandhi recently tweeted. “But fear must not be leveraged to track citizens without their consent.”

https://twitter.com/RahulGandhi/status/1256579764258607107?s=20

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