According to a statement by the Ministry of Electronics & IT, the app will track its users’ “interaction with others”, and will alert the authorities if there was any suspicion of the user having been in contact with any infected person. “Once installed in a smart phone through an easy and user-friendly process, the app detects other devices with Aarogya Setu installed that come in the proximity of that phone. The app can then calculate the risk of infection based on sophisticated parameters if any of these contacts is tested positive,” the government said.
The app detects other devices with Aarogya Setu installed that have come in the Bluetooth or GPS proximity of one’s phone and captures this information. It recommends users to keep the Bluetooth and location sharing settings of the device switched on at all times. The statement added that the app’s design ensured “privacy-first”. It said that the personal data collected by the app was encrypted using “state-of-the-art technology and stays secure on the phone till it is needed for facilitating medical intervention”.
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“There isn’t enough information available on what data will be collected, how long will it be stored and what uses it will be put to. If the data gets shared with the government of India, what the government can use it for needs to be specified. Otherwise, it will be a violation of the notice and consent principles,” said Prasanna S, a Delhi-based lawyer.
“This is only the app-side data. What about the server side data? How long the Government of India retains it also needs to be specified,” Prasanna argued.
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. “We understand that these are extraordinary times and some level of data collection is required but the question is how effective is this. Our situation is different than Singapore, where a good number of people would have smartphones. This raises a concern of proportionality. There are other means for trying to achieve this for a country like ours,” said Prasanth Sugathan, volunteer legal director, SFLC.in.
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