Aarogya Setu app features a banner announcing “10.02 crore Indians” are using the app
Aarogya Setu app was launched on April 2
The app surpassed 50 lakh installs in three days of launch
Aarogya Setu app has raised privacy concerns as well
The Aarogya Setu app has crossed the mark of 10 crore registered users in 41 days since its launch on April 2. Projected as the ultimate solution for contact tracing, the app has been in the eyes of critics due to privacy concerns. The Aarogya Setu app has also gained huge popularity in India specifically due to the fact that while it was initially voluntary to use by the citizens to limit the spread of COVID-19, it has been made mandatory at various places. It has been released by policy think-tank NITI Aayog in association with a team comprising citizen volunteers and government agencies.
Mandatory use — the key behind its success? By crossing the mark of 10 crore users in less than one-and-a-half months of its launch, the Aarogya Setu app has become one of the fastest growing apps worldwide. However, gaining that success was not as difficult for the Aarogya Setu team as for any commercial app development company as the app received personal appeals from Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his public addresses. It also started evolving from being a voluntary solution to mandatory.
The government has made it compulsory for all private and government employees to have the Aarogya Setu app installed on their phones. “It shall be the responsibility of the head of the respective organisations to ensure 100 percent coverage of this app among the employees,” one of the recent guidelines released by the Ministry of Home Affairs reads.
Similarly, travellers who are using passenger trains to travel during the lockdown are required to install the Aarogya Setu app. It has also been made mandatory for the workers who deliver food and other essential goods. The Noida police recently started enforcing the use of the app as well. All this has played an important role in growing its usage.
Privacy concerns Although the government and various private bodies are promoting the use of the Aarogya Setu app to limit the coronavirus outbreak in the country, experts have raised privacy concerns. Groups such as the Software Freedom Law Center, India (SFLC.in) and the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) have underlined issues such as the use of location tracking alongside Bluetooth access and the delay in open sourcing its code.
Recently, french security researcher Robert Baptiste, who goes by the pseudonym Elliot Alderson, or @fs0c131y on Twitter, also pointed out a flaw in the app that allows perpetrators to obtain information about the unwell people/ people who have done a self-assessment near them in a fixed radius.
Having said that, the NITI Aayog has so far assured that the data received by the Aarogya Setu app is safe and secured and is only shared with the government officials working on COVID-19. The government also earlier this week issued a set of data processing rules that bar storage of data for over six months and specify a jail term for violators.
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Jagmeet Singh writes about consumer technology for Gadgets 360, out of New Delhi. Jagmeet is a principal correspondent for Gadgets 360, and has frequently written about apps, computer security, Internet services, and telecom developments. Jagmeet is available on Twitter at @JagmeetS13 or Email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send in your leads and tips.