The government has made the use of Aarogya Setu app mandatory for all public and private sector employees while announcing another extension of the ongoing lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also made the app compulsory for people residing in COVID-19 Containment Zones to enable intensive surveillance and contact tracing in those areas. Authorities have been asked by the government to ensure total coverage of the app among those residents. Aarogya Setu was introduced as a voluntary app by the government in early April, and has seen massive growth in usage thanks to its use being encouraged by PM Narendra Modi and establishments such as CBSE.
Aarogya Setu must for all employees
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in its directive, “Use of Aarogya Setu app shall be made mandatory for all employees, both private and public. It shall be the responsibility of the head of the respective organisations to ensure 100 percent coverage of this app among the employees.”
The government, on Wednesday, had made the use of the app compulsory for all the central government employees.
In the guideline, MHA also mentioned that privates offices in Red Zone, leaving aside the containment zones, will be allowed to open with up to 33 percent strength. Remaining staff will have to work from home. It said, “Private offices can operate with up to 33 percent strength as per requirement, with the remaining persons working from home.” It is also implied that in Orange and Green Zones, 100 percent strength is allowed. Government offices in the Red Zone will be allowed to operate at full strength for senior officers of the level of deputy secretary and above, with “remaining staff attending up to 33 percent as per requirement.”
Mandatory in Containment Zones
MHA guidelines also stated that the authorities will make sure that Aarogya Setu app is used by everyone in Containment Zones. The guidelines read, “The local authorities shall ensure 100 percent coverage of Aarogya Setu app among the residents of containment zone”
Aarogya Setu – launched in early April – is a contact tracing app using Bluetooth and GPS data of users for the purpose. The government has decided to take up intensive surveillance for contact tracing in Containment Zones. While it is not yet mandatory for everyone in India, its use has been vigorously promoted by government leaders and authorities.
Privacy concerns around Aarogya Setu
The app has also raised privacy concerns. It has been said by experts that the app requires 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. NITI Aayog has defended the use of the app and said that GPS data helps in finding new hotspots. It claimed that location data is not used by the app on an individual basis, but on an aggregated basis.