Friday, Jul 03, 2020 | Last Update : 08:07 PM IST

101st Day Of Lockdown

Maharashtra1866261011728178 Tamil Nadu98392560211321 Delhi92175630072864 Gujarat33999246011887 Uttar Pradesh2482517221735 West Bengal1981913037699 Rajasthan1878515043435 Telangana185709069275 Karnataka180168336272 Andhra Pradesh169347632206 Haryana1550911019251 Madhya Pradesh1410610815589 Bihar10914799478 Assam8956583212 Jammu and Kashmir76954856105 Odisha7316535333 Punjab56683989149 Kerala4594243626 Uttarakhand2791190937 Chhatisgarh2339193713 Jharkhand2339160512 Tripura140110931 Manipur12605790 Goa11984783 Himachal Pradesh9796179 Puducherry73930112 Nagaland5351820 Chandigarh4463676 Arunachal Pradesh182601 Mizoram1601230 Sikkim88490 Meghalaya50421
  Opinion   Edit  27 May 2020  AA Edit: Centre’s ‘Aarogya’ climbdown

AA Edit: Centre’s ‘Aarogya’ climbdown

Published : May 27, 2020, 7:56 pm IST
Updated : May 27, 2020, 7:56 pm IST

Launched in April, Aarogya Setu now has 110 million subscribers

Arogya Setu app (Twitter)
 Arogya Setu app (Twitter)

As flights resume all over the country, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri has announced that the use of the controversial contact tracing app, Aarogya Setu, will no longer be mandatory, but preferential.

To their considerable relief, fliers without a smartphone or with phones incompatible with the app will need to undergo thermal checking after making a self-declaration.


But the app will be “mandatory” only in “exceptional cases” where the receiving state permits home quarantine for 14 days.

Nevertheless, this move marks a notable departure from the government's earlier stance. During the first phase of the lockdown, the Prime Minister himself has asked citizens to download the app even while India has over 900 million smartphone non-users.

Launched in April, Aarogya Setu now has 110 million subscribers. But a paper published in ICMR’s Indian Journal of Medical Research has noted that without a well-equipped public health response, its data of little help.

But the overarching concern is one of privacy. Though as per the Supreme Court’s landmark August 2017 judgment, it is a fundamental right, India has no legal framework to ensure it online, giving rise to arguable attempts to poach it by the government.

French hacker Robert Baptiste has exposed its many security flaws and seconded Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of the app as a “sophisticated surveillance system”, which requires the user to keep their Bluetooth and GPS location sharing turned on at all times and stores that data in an anonymous server.

Additionally, while technologies in other countries, operate in a more transparent manner, Aarogya Setu’s code is not open-sourced. The unique digital identity in Aarogya Setu is a static number, which increases the probability of identity breaches.

A better approach would be constantly changing digital identification keys as done by Google and Apple in their joint contact tracing application.

When privacy is circumvented, data is compromised. Only last week, the Delhi High Court issued a notice to the Central government on a petition seeking directions to immediately delink Aarogya Setu from a website which is promoting and acting as a “marketing tool” for e-pharmacies.

Is India now a des of data thieves and thought policemen?

Tags: aarogya setu app, coronavirus (covid-19)