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Mandatory Imposition To Use Aarogya Setu App

Introduction


Number of increasing death due to the uncontrollable pace of Covid-19 cases in the country has forced every person to wok at its best to save oneself and others too from infectious disease caused by severe respiratory syndrome Coronavirus which was the first case was seen in Wuhan, China in December 2019 and the outbreak of pandemic was officially declared on 11th March 2020. In between this, the Government of India has taken commendable step by launching a contact tracking app “Aarogya Setu” for a smartphone. But on the other hand, people were pulling apart this initiative as taken by the government of India.


In Noida and Greater Noida, the inhabitants yielded a complaint letter to the Police Commissioner and District Magistrate against mandatory use of the app. Kerala High Court (Kochi) also received a petition, filed by Thrissur District Congress Committee General Secretary John Daniel through advocates Sriram Prarakkat, KS Tripathi and Anupama Subramanian for challenging the regulation of the Central Government for mandatory use of this app.



Aarogya Setu: Connecting people to strengthen the fight against COVID-19


Continuously rising cases of COVID-19, every state of the country is working on scrutiny of advanced technologies so as to minimize the havoc results of the pandemic. Robots to drones the government of our country are jumping through hoops to fight against a pandemic disease.

In the middle of this, Aarogya Setu Application, COVID-19 tracking mobile app headway by the National Informatics Center on April 2020, which comes under Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology which is available in 11 different languages including Hindi and Aarogya Setu application has come up forward to keep a user informed if COVID-19 infected person crossed his path.

In particular, contact tracing is a pillar which helps public health officials in containing and the pace of transmission of the virus. With the ubiquity of smartphones, which collect vast troves of personal information, governments across the world believe surveillance can aid with rapid contact tracing.


Right to Privacy


Right to privacy is one of the inherent rights of a person which is embodied in Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It is a right which keeps a shield around a person, which includes all such things that are part of a person, body, home, property, feelings, secrets and identity.


Therefore, these applications are lacking behind in maintaining the data safely because the government has raised their hand that how our personal data will be deleted. These technologies may create a long term danger while curbing to mediate the short-term problem of controlling the virus.


Here and now, from person to person’s identity everything is becoming a slave of all the technological development. Same is going with the Aarogya Setu App, there is a lack of transparency on track records of privacy and its management. There is not even proper execution by executives for its compulsory use and the government even has not passed any legislation regarding that. Lastly, there is no protection against data theft and other breaches which confers a guard on the state liability.


Critical Analysis

The main problem regarding the COVID-19 contact-tracing application is lack of privacy concerns and other transparency policies of its management. However, this application is so functional that information regarding 697 potential COVID-19 hotspots is created through this application. The information taken by this app is stored on the server for only 30 days and if a person found COVID-19 positive, then data is being stored for 60 days until a person returns to a normal state of health. Moreover, Amitabh Kant, CEO of Niti Aayog stated on one of the tweets that the application has been validated by the Singaporean ethical hacker Frank Volkel.


However, such a system must consider embedding the following principles among others:

  • The usage of this application should be voluntary and should remain in the control/server interests of the user.

  • All data should always be stored locally on people’s advice.

  • This data must be encrypted.

  • No government department can access it at a later point, so must ensure nothing is centralized in a server.

  • The Government must appreciate that any idea from location information, to proximity confirmations, to health status, to whether they have been placed in isolation is sensitive personal information.

  • Privacy by design is more than just assurances that phone numbers are not recorded, all data is encrypted, pseudonymisation is deployed or that the use of the app is “voluntarily” and based on consent. Most of these protections have known techniques of circumvention.

Therefore, we need to adhere to two principles:

-Strict limits (in terms of collection and duration) every step of the way.

-Comprehensive evidence-based justifications every step of the way.


Conclusion


Amidst the pandemic, people are so scared and to protect oneself from suffering from this novel Coronavirus, people relied on the app as it is helping to protect oneself, one family and the whole country. Application has become the seventh most downloaded non-game app worldwide in April and has succeeded to garner more than 60 million users.


At this point of time, there is no directive or order from the Government of India which says that the general public has to download the app, except one or two states, there do not appear to be any state-wide orders to download Aarogya Setu at this time. However, it is advisable to check whether your local administration has made it mandatory or not. A private individual or association cannot make downloading the app mandatory. Such an order would have to come from the Central or State government (or at the worst, the DM ), otherwise. It’s an illegal invasion of privacy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paridhi Verma is currently studying law from Indore Institute of Law, Indore MP.

You can contact them: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paridhi-verma-294

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