Aarogya Setu App Download Encouraged by PM Modi, Amid Privacy Concerns Raised by Experts


Aarogya Setu app downloads had been inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi whereas addressing the nation on Tuesday. The app that was launched earlier this month to allow contact tracing by smartphones crossed the mark of 5 million installs in simply three days of its debut. In the midst of its outstanding development, the Aarogya Setu app has additionally raised privateness considerations. Some specialists have additionally identified that because the app makes use of GPS — along with Bluetooth — for figuring out the potential unfold of the an infection, it could possibly be used for precisely revealing the placement of customers.

“Download the Aarogya Setu mobile app to help prevent the spread of [the] corona infection. Inspire others to download the app as well,” Prime Minister Modi said throughout his handle to the nation.

This is notably not the primary time when the Prime Minister has inspired the general public to obtain the Aarogya Setu app. In truth, he specified its significance and urged his followers on social media to obtain the app final week by offering the hyperlinks for each Android and iOS customers.

In addition to the encouragement by the Prime Minister, the Aarogya Setu app has been promoted by numerous industrial banks that lately despatched textual content messages to their prospects — urging them to obtain the app that has primarily been developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC). The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) additionally really helpful all its recognised colleges and establishments to induce college students, academics, mother and father, and employees amongst others to obtain the government-backed app.

The preliminary push helped the Aarogya Setu app attract five million installs in simply three days of its launch that came about on April 2. As per a tweet posted by Arnab Kumar, Program Director of Frontier Technologies at NITI Aayog, earlier on Tuesday, the app crossed the mark of 40 million lively customers inside two weeks of its launch and emerged as one of many fastest-growing apps globally.

It can also be reported that the World Bank recently praised India’s transfer with the Aarogya Setu app. Some different international locations together with Singapore even have their related contact tracing options in place for a while to restrict the coronavirus outbreak.

Having mentioned that, the underlying system on which the Aarogya Setu app works has raised numerous privateness considerations. The India division of the New York City-based Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC.in) alleged that the app collects delicate private information akin to an individual’s gender and journey data that it shops within the cloud.

“Moreover, the App continuously collects the location data of the registered user and maintains a record of the places where the user had come in contact with other registered users,” the SFLC.in’s crew wrote in a put up shortly after the discharge of the Aarogya Setu app earlier this month.

The crew additionally underlined that the app restricts reverse engineering that might let safety researchers study the privateness points.

Similar to the claims made by the SFLC.in, the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) released a paper earlier this week that talked about main privateness points throughout the Aarogya Setu app. “Unlike Singapore and MIT, India’s contact tracing project lacks transparency,” Sidharth Deb, Policy and Parliamentary Counsel on the IFF, writes within the paper.

The main technology-side concern that has been raised by the IFF crew is the usage of GPS that is not there in case of the TraceTogether app developed by the Singaporean authorities and the framework jointly announced by Apple and Google that each depend on Bluetooth over getting location particulars utilizing GPS information. The GPS utilization by the app would offer authorities precise longitude and latitude particulars of the customers, which is not in case when utilizing solely Bluetooth connectivity. It can also be not required for contact tracing because the customers who’re in contact with an contaminated particular person may be tracked utilizing Bluetooth as effectively.

The different main concern that has been famous within the paper is the absence of references with respect to any non-government stakeholders and distributors concerned within the improvement course of. The listings on Apple App Store and Google Play exhibits NIC as the first developer, although it’s unclear whether or not any third-parties are additionally part of the event course of.

Nevertheless, the newest point out by Prime Minister Modi is sort of more likely to increase the variety of downloads of the Aarogya Setu app. We noticed this previously, with the Coronavirus WhatsApp chatbot that crossed 1.7 crore users inside 10 days of its launch. The chatbot grew from 17 lakh every day lively customers to over 35 lakh every day customers in simply sooner or later after the Prime Minister highlighted its availability throughout a public video convention.


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