Massachusetts Institute of Technology's MIT Technology Review has downgraded the Indian government's Coronavirus tracking app Aarogya Setu. The app suffered a setback as researchers at the MIT downgraded the app rating to one star out of five in its in-house review. The app lost points on the parameters of “data minimisation” which implies that it is collecting more data than required.
Millions of Indians are being forced to download the country’s coronavirus tracking app. It’s a line no other democracy has yet crossed in the fight against covid-19. https://t.co/mro24KRtfo— MIT Technology Review (@techreview) May 19, 2020
MIT launched 'Covid Tracing Tracker', a portal to keep a track on all coronavirus trackers across the world, assessing the applications on a number of bases, such as transparency, minimised data collection etc. It assesses whether the application is mandatory to download or voluntary, how the data collected is used, if the data accessed will be deleted later, of the data collected will be only specific to the information required and if the application is transparent in nature - has an open-source code, and abides by the policies, etc.
MIT gives one star every time the application has a positive answer to these questions.
Aarogya Setu is a mobile application developed by the Government of India to connect essential health services with the people of India in our combined fight against COVID-19. The app is aimed at augmenting the initiatives of the Government of India, particularly the Department of Health, in proactively reaching out to and informing the users of the app regarding risks, best practices and relevant advisories pertaining to the containment of COVID-19.
Aarogya Setu uses Bluetooth and GPS connectivity to help track the Covid-19 infection. In the app, users can check whether they have come in contact with a Covid-19 infected person and the app allows users to self-assess their symptoms as well. Since its launch, it has undergone various updates and has also come under the scanner of breach of data privacy.
The Ministry of Home Affairs amended its guidelines for the extended lockdown in India till May 17. In the notification issued by the MHA, the Centre made the use of its contact tracing app Aarogya Setu mandatory in containment zones and for all public entity employees. While the Centre has hailed the app as adhering to global standards, several Opposition leaders and privacy experts have raised issues with it. Moreover, as the Indian Railways resumed passenger train operations, it announced that installing the government's COVID tracking app- Aarogya Setu was 'mandatory' for the traveling passengers.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation has also issued an advisory where all passengers who will be traveling via airplanes are required to download the application. However, it has not made it mandatory to do so. On the other hand, travelers will be required to fill up a declaration form.