Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged citizens to download government’s Aarogya Setu app to help curb the spread of novel coronavirus in his address to the nation on Tuesday. If you are wandering what it’s all about, you are at the right spot.
What is Aarogya Setu app?
Aarogya Setu app is a Bluetooth-based tracking application developed by the Government of India to help track coronavirus patients in the country. It attempts to determine a user’s corona-risk based on his location. Additionally, it also alerts users in case they might cross paths with any positive coronavirus patients.
It also aims to connect people with essential health services in the wake of current coronavirus crisis. Furthermore, it also spreads awareness about the various initiatives of the Department of Health and advised precautions to protect against COVID-19.
Notably, one of the most challenging aspects of containing the novel virus has been asymptomatic cases among the coronavirus positives. In case of COVID-19, an infected person may not have any symptoms for as long as two weeks. However, these individuals may infect others and spread the virus in the meantime due to their delayed isolation.
Privacy concerns over Aarogya Setu
Several governments and tech companies are emphasising on contact tracing to contain the spread of COVID-19. However, this has also started a debate on their possible implications on user-privacy.
The government officials have stated that the Aarogya Setu app will track location data on an individual level and it will be shared only with the authorised government officials for tracking potential patients of Covid-19.
However, several groups have raised concerns over its potential threat to user-privacy. They have raised concerns over several aspects of the app including information collection, data storage, transparency, etc.
Notably, even the European Commission had filed a recommendation earlier this month about using smartphone location data for contact tracing to contain Covid-19. However, it has also emphasized on the need to put into place checks and balances to prevent the misuse of this data.
Therefore, these contact tracking tech-based interventions can be considered as the necessary devils in our battle against the novel virus, COVID-19. However, the responsibility also lies with the authorities to ensure transparency and to take necessary steps to minimise risks of a data breach/misuse. Let us know your thoughts on the Aarogya Setu app in the comments below.