Highlighting data security and privacy concerns with Aarogya Setu, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Saturday claimed the government’s contact-tracing mobile application was a “sophisticated surveillance system outsourced to a private operator”.
Gandhi’s remark came a day after the Centre made the use of the app mandatory for all employees of public and private organisations to track patients with Covid-19 and alert others in proximity to them. The app is developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
“The Arogya Setu app, is a sophisticated surveillance system, outsourced to a private operator, with no institutional oversight – raising serious data security and privacy concerns. Technology can help keep us safe; but fear must not be leveraged to track citizens without their consent,” the Congress leader said.
The Arogya Setu app, is a sophisticated surveillance system, outsourced to a pvt operator, with no institutional oversight – raising serious data security & privacy concerns. Technology can help keep us safe; but fear must not be leveraged to track citizens without their consent.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 2, 2020
Hitting back, Union Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the app was a “powerful companion which protects people and has a robust data security architecture.”
Aarogya Setu mandatory: Here’s who will need to download the contact tracing app
Denying Gandhi’s claim that the app was outsourced to a private operator, Prasad told him to “stop outsourcing your tweets to your cronies who do not understand India.”
“Those who indulged in surveillance all their lives, won’t know how tech can be leveraged for good!,” he said.
Daily a new lie.
Aarogya Setu is a powerful companion which protects people. It has a robust data security architecture.
Those who indulged in surveillance all their lives, won’t know how tech can be leveraged for good! https://t.co/t8ThXmddcS
— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) May 2, 2020
According to new guidelines, which will be enforced from May 4 for the two additional weeks of lockdown, the use of Aarogya Setu app is required for all employees, private and public, with the head of the organisation responsible for ensuring 100 per cent coverage among employees. Earlier this week, all central government employees were asked to download the app and, beginning Friday, it was made mandatory for everyone crossing the Delhi-Gurgaon border.
According to a statement released on April 2 by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, the app will track users’ “interaction with others”, and will alert authorities if there is any suspicion of the user having been in contact with an infected person.
“Once installed in a smartphone 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 are tested positive,” the government had then said.