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Privacy Concern Over Aarogya Setu App

  • 04 Apr 2020
  • 3 min read

Why in News

Recently, legal experts raised concerns over the privacy policy of Aarogya Setu app, launched by the government, to allow people to assess if they are at a risk of contracting Covid-19.

  • They are of the view that there is a need for clarity on how the data collected by the app be stored and used by the government.

Aarogya Setu App

  • Aarogya Setu app has been launched by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
  • It will help people in identifying the risk of getting affected by the CoronaVirus.
  • It will calculate risk based on the user's interaction with others, using cutting edge Bluetooth technology, algorithms and artificial intelligence.
  • Once installed in a smartphone, the app detects other nearby devices with Aarogya Setu installed.
  • The App will help the Government take necessary timely steps for assessing risk of spread of COVID-19 infection, and ensuring isolation where required.

Key Issues

  • The key issue is there is not enough information available on what data will be collected, how long will it be stored and what uses it will be put to.
  • No specification on the issue of how the government will use data if the data gets shared with the government of India.
  • On the data retention part, the app’s privacy policy specifies only the data available on the app and does not specify for how long the Government of India will retain server side data.
  • Additionally, there was also a question of proportionality with the app and whether it will be as effective as envisaged in containing the Covid-19 outbreak.
    • India’s situation is different from countries like Singapore, where a good number of people have smartphones.
    • In India compared to its population, smartphone users are very less which means very few people will be able to download the app.

Way Forward

  • The app privacy policy needs detailed clarification on data collection, its storage and uses.
  • The Government of India must specify how it will deal with the app’s data and how long it will retain the server side data.
  • According to the Supreme Court in the Puttaswamy judgement (2017), the right to privacy is a fundamental right and it is necessary to protect personal data as an essential facet of informational privacy.

Source: IE

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