Aarogya Setu is an app developed by National Informatics Centre, which comes under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). The app keeps a track of its users whereabouts and if they come in contact with a COVID-19 infected person. The app uses location tracking and Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons that send over data like the MAC address of the device, distance between devices, a device ID, GPS coordinates, signal strength, time at which the contact took place, and Bluetooth model name and number.
Considering that the app is collecting so much personal data there is mass hysteria that the data collected by the government might be used at a later date. Many users have even taken to Twitter noting down their privacy concerns and why they do not want to download the app on to their smartphones.
Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Aayog in an interview televised on Aaj Tak and shared on the official Twitter handle of Niti Aayog states that the app’s data will not be used by the Indian government for any purposes other than tracking COVID-19 or medical purposes. This hints that the app might stay live even after coronavirus is curbed, with a different focus.
During the interview, he stated that the data will stay on your mobile for 30 days and on the government’s server for 45 days if you are not at risk and have a green banner on the app. If you are at risk and have a yellow banner, your data will be stored in the server for 60 days.
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He states that the level of privacy the app has is not available on any other app, which is an extremely bold claim to make. It will never reveal a users personal identity to anyone, however, we know that the app sends a users device ID to the server, which is generated from the user’s name, phone number and other details.
Kant earlier tweeted that “Aarogya Setu had reached 50 million downloads in just 13 days.” He said that this is the fastest any app has been able to do this, citing examples of apps like Pokemon Go that took 19 days to reach 50 million downloads.
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