As the government plans to ease out lockdown restrictions from Monday, it climbed down on Aarogya Setu mobile application by removing the mandatory provision for the app’s download as earlier.
Ministry of Home Affairs in its guidelines issued on Saturday about phase wise opening of lockdown said that the Aarogya Setu mobile application enables early identification of risk of infection, thus acts as a shield for individuals and the community.
“With a view to ensure safety in offices and work places, employers on best effort basis should ensure that the application is installed by all employees having compatible mobile phones. District authorities have been asked to advise individuals to install the Aarogya Setu application on compatible mobile phones and regularly update their health status on the app," the guidelines said adding that this will facilitate timely provision of medical attention to those individuals who are at risk.
The Union home ministry’s order earlier this month making the use of Aarogya Setu mandatory for every working person in India was looked as hard measure to enforce in the absence of a personal data law, spawning legal challenges aimed at protecting the right to privacy.
However, some states such as Uttar Pradesh have made the app download mandatory and imposing fine for not doing so. Aarogya Setu has been developed by the Ministry of Electronics and IT to help citizens identify their risk of contracting covid-19. It has been designed to keep a user informed, in case she/he cross paths with someone who has tested positive. The tracking is done through Bluetooth and location generated social graph, which can show your interaction with anyone who has tested positive.
The user, upon installation, is asked to answer a number of questions. In case some of the answers suggest covid-19 symptoms, the information will be sent to a Government server.
According to the government, the data will then help the Government take timely steps and initiate the isolation procedure if necessary and it also alerts if someone comes in close proximity with a person tested positive. The app is available on both Google Play (for Android phones) and iOS app store (for iphones). It is available in 11 languages including Hindu and English.
The government recently said that it has been able to find out hotspots in various areas in the country with the Aarogya Setu mobile app. Ajay Sawhney, Chairman, Empowered Group 9 on covid-19 had said in a press briefing that combining the movement history of positive patients with the self-assessment data submitted by others enabled the government to identify potential hot spot areas and take preventive action; info on 697 such spots have been sent to states/districts, he had said.