Complying with Central Information Commission (CIC)'s notice, Ministry of Electronics and IT on Thursday, said that it is committed to furnishing all information sought under RTI Act to the applicant seeking Aarogya Setu App creators details. Moreover, the ministry has directed to initiate suitable action against the officers responsible for the lapses, advising NIC and NeGD to do same. Recently, the Ministry stirred a row after it failed to furnish details about the creators of Aarogya Setu App.
The Ministry has directed NIC & NeGD to take action against officer dealing with the RTI query in their organisations as well. It's committed to furnish all info sought under RTI Act to the applicant & comply with the directions of Central Information Commission: Govt sources https://t.co/pUF02A3B8i— ANI (@ANI) October 29, 2020
On Tuesday, the Central Information Commission (CIC) on Tuesday issued show-cause notices to the CPIOs, Ministry of Electronics, National Informatics Centre, National E-Governance Division (NeGD) after it failed to inform who and how Aarogya Setu app was created. The CIC asked NIC to explain how it had no information about the creation of the App, inspite of being mentioned as the platform's designer, developer and host, as per reports. The details were sought by a RTI petitioner.
As per the ministry's RTI reply, NIC stated that it "does not hold the information" relating to the App's creation. After reading such a baffling reply, the petitioner had pointed out that this lapse could 'essentially lead to security compromise of millions of Indians' personal and user data'. The CIC then held that 'denial of information cannot be used by public authorities to push off the matter', asking how it is possible that the App was created by NIC, but has no clue about its origin.
The app has issued a clarification regarding its creation, sharing the open-access source code of the app - which will give details regarding the app. In response to CIC's summons, Aarogya Setu clarified that the app was developed in 21 days by NIC in collaboration with volunteers from industry and academia. The names of those associated with the development of the app and management of the app ecosystem at various stages were shared when the code was released in the public domain.
The Centre's Aarogya Setu App is currently being used for contact-tracing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The application uses Bluetooth and GPS data of the user to collect surveillance for contact tracing in Containment Zones. Experts state that the app's usage of GPS-based location data is gaining more date than what is necessary. Moreover, experts state that the location data is not used by the app on an individual basis, but on an aggregated basis. After several data analysts questioned why the Centre has not made the source code of the app available for examination by the larger technology community, the Centre made the source code available on open source on 26 May 2020.