Coronavirus Aarogya Setu: Anyone attending office anywhere should have the app on their mobile from May 4, the day the two-week extended lockdown kicks in
Coronavirus: Rahul Gandhi said "Aarogya Setu app is sophisticated surveillance system"
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Saturday criticised the government over the coronavirus tracking app Aarogya Setu as a "sophisticated surveillance system". The app that was meant for voluntary use when it was launched in early April has been made a must for all private and government employees. If a private firm employee is found without the app on their phone, the head of the company will be held responsible, the centre has said.
"The Arogya Setu app, is a sophisticated surveillance system, outsourced to a pvt operator, with no institutional oversight - raising serious data security & privacy concerns. Technology can help keep us safe; but fear must not be leveraged to track citizens without their consent," Rahul Gandhi tweeted on Saturday.
Mr Gandhi adds to what some experts have said about privacy concerns over the app. They say the app needs far more data than what is necessary and falls shorts of the standards set by contact-tracing apps of other countries.
Use of GPS-based location data is a major concern, they say. The government think tank NITI Aayog has defended the use of the app and said the GPS data helps in finding new hotspots. It said the location data is not used by the app on an individual basis, but on an aggregated basis.
Anyone attending office anywhere should have the app on their mobile from May 4, the day the two-week extended lockdown kicks in, the government has said. Everyone in a COVID-19 containment zone will also have to download the app.
Those working from home, however, need not use the app. The centre has set a target of achieving 30 crore app downloads in the next few weeks.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, responding to Mr Gandhi's criticism, said the app is a "powerful companion which protects people".
"Daily a new lie. Aarogya Setu is a powerful companion which protects people. It has a robust data security architecture. Those who indulged in surveillance all their lives, won't know how tech can be leveraged for good!" Mr Prasad tweeted.
"Aarogya Setu is now being appreciated globally. The App is NOT outsourced to any private operator. Mr. Gandhi really high time that you stop outsourcing your tweets to your cronies who do not understand India," the Union Minister tweeted.
The app's use has been encouraged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and even educational bodies like the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
India recorded the biggest single-day jump of 2,411 coronavirus cases on Saturday, taking the total to 37,776, the Health Ministry said. It said 1,223 deaths linked to the highly infectious COVID-19 have been reported so far. Seventy-one deaths were reported in the last 24 hours.