Ever since it has been launched, the Aarogya Setu app has divided opinion. While on one hand, the app aims to facilitate contact tracing, it has been met with apprehensions as well about its privacy.
This has led to a conflicting response to the application. On one hand, it became one of the fasted downloaded apps ever. While others are concerned about their data protection when it comes to downloading the application and are refraining from doing it. Even army personnel have been asked to deal with caution when it came to using Aarogya Setu.
Aarogya Setu requires a user to enter in their name, age, health details, profession and share their GPS location. It also requires one to give Bluetooth access to the application. This, in turn, allows it to track the coronavirus infection by using the smartphone's GPS system and Bluetooth and provide information that will help in determining if you have been near a Covid-19 infected person or not. However, this combined with the application’s vague terms and conditions has lead users to believe that it Aarogya Setu could be a surveillance application.
The central government has vehemently denied any such surveillance claims, even making it mandatory for its employees to download the app. It has also said repeatedly that the data collected will only be used by the Health Ministry for the purposes of contact tracing.
“ I don’t really care even if they pick up the data, the government has our data anyway lol. There are so many applications and websites where we mindlessly share our data, I’ve lost count now. Data privacy is a myth. If Aarogya Setu helps in contact tracing and can assist our fight against the coronavirus, I don’t really mind keeping it on my phone.” – Nimish, 20
“ It’s a surveillance application for sure. It asks so much from us and requires information that could easily have been done away with. Take the example of Singapore’s contact tracing app. It requires only the user’s number to generate a unique id and it contact traces via that. But when it comes to Aarogya Setu, it wants number, name, health details and whatnot. Why do two apps with the same purpose have such different information requirements? It is like practically selling your data to the government for free.” – Riddhi,24
“ I haven’t downloaded it, and I don’t plan on doing as well. The main reason I feel is the app is just a poor attempt at contact tracing. It used Bluetooth to track you and collect information. How many of us actually keep our Bluetooth on all the times? Also, in a country of 1.3 billion people, how many do actually use phones and that too how many will have devices that can download the app right now? Contact tracing via an application is a failed proposition in a country like ours.” – Nikhil, 19
“ I have downloaded it. I feel Aarogya Setu has been made for people like you and me. It is for those that have access to a proper smartphone and can use it to at least have some comfort knowing the extent of risk COVID-19 poses to them. There’s no way you can say for sure it is a surveillance app or is useless or whatever. The government is trying out something. If we can, it is our duty to support it and that’s what I’m doing” – Nimisha, 25