The Centre on Wednesday made it mandatory for all its employees to download the Aarogya Setu app on their mobile phones, saying the application will be helpful in breaking the chain of transmission of COVID-19.
Those working in the Central government, including officers and outsourced staff, will have to review their status on the app before they start for office. They can come report to work only when if it reflects “safe” or “low risk” status.
In the latest memorandum on the use of the Aarogya Setu app by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, the government said officials who are categorised as high risk or moderate based on recent contact with infected person should isolate themselves for 14 days until the app shows ‘safe’ status.
The order has been sent to all departments, ministries, Cabinet Secretariat and the Prime Minister’s Office. “The ministries, departments may issue similar directions to all autonomous, statutory bodies, PSUs,” it further said.
The Aarogya Setu app was developed by the Narendra Modi-led government to track those who come in close contact with COVID-19 positive cases. The app uses Bluetooth and location data to track the movement of users and keep an eye on them including who they meet or come in close contact with.
The app, which is owned by the government and supported by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), was developed by a joint team of official entities such as NITI Aayog and tech industry volunteers, who also help manage it. The first line of code was written by March 19, and the app launched on April 2 after a security audit conducted by IIT-Madras and a tech consulting firm. According to project volunteers, the data is stored on Amazon Web Services servers — a government-impaneled data storage service run by Amazon — as a temporary measure until the transition is made to a NIC server.
For “at-risk” or positive cases, the user’s 30-day log of previous contacts is downloaded to the server, and an alert is sent to each contact. The “at-risk” decision is taken by an algorithm, but the team plans to add human moderators as another level of verification, Indihood founder Lalitesh Katragadda, who is among about 20 volunteers behind the app’s development had earlier told The Indian Express. However, few experts have flagged privacy concerns related to the app.