Analysis of Aarogya Setu

The COVID 19 pandemic has changed the world we knew. Individuals, Government, everybody is trying to fight it out, cope with it. But to deal with the immediate problem, we often overlook the issues which are brought by the solutions.

The Government of India has developed an app called Aarogya Setu. This is an app to trace out the people the user came in contact with. If there is someone who is or can be a Covid19 positive among those people, the app notifies the user and authorities. So they can take action. The app has already gained massive popularity among people and has already been downloaded over 10 million times.

At a glance, the app and the aim behind it seem innocent and right. But if we dig deeper, we will be able to find out the real intention of the app, which is massive blanket data collection. ‘Data Retention’ and not ‘Data Deletion” is at the very core of the privacy policy of the app.

There is a different prominent organization that has laid down some essential points to keep in mind while developing such apps. EFF says “our advice to organizations that consider sharing aggregate location data: Get consent from the users who supply the data. Be cautious about the details. Aggregate on the highest level of generality that will be useful. Share your plans with the public before you release the data. And avoid sharing “deidentified” or “anonymized” location data that is not aggregated—it doesn’t work.” Chaos Computer Club defines contact tracing as an inherently risky technology. They further say that privacy should be at the fundamental base of any such app. Here are some notable work done in the field by :

It is not only India but many such Governments all around the world have developed such apps. The similar app developed by the Singapore Government is called TraceTogether. But what is at the very core of the app is the user’s privacy and security. Whereas the Indian app takes a bunch of information from the user. Such as - name, sex, age, profession, if or not you are a smoker. The only information TraceTogether takes is the phone number of the user, that is it. Also, where TraceTogether deletes the data after 21 days. But Aarogya Setu does not mention any specific time.

We at HasGeek along with Kaarana community organizing an event on “Analysis of Aarogya Setu Mobile Application. An in-depth discussion of how the official COVID19 disease surveillance app works” today at 6 pm. We have speakers from different fields and expertise starting from security, law, data science, policy, and activism. Also, we will have a speaker from GovTech Singapore to give their view and intent to create Trace Together.

See you all there.

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