WHO CREATED THE AAROGYA SETU APP?










Published by: Ojaswi Gupta


Background:

Aarogya is a Sanskrit term that means ‘freedom from a disease’ or someone healthy and fit. And Setu in Hinduism means ‘the bridge built by Lord Rama to go to Lanka. However. Aarogya Setu in combination would mean ‘the bridge to combat liberation from the disease’. Respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi went on air on 3rd May 2020 to announce the lockdown extension and in between mentioned the name of the Aarogya Setu application. What is Aarogya Setu? The Government of India (GOI) launched the mobile application ‘Aarogya Setu’ on 2nd April 2020 to protect the citizens of India from spreading the novel coronavirus. It is an application to keep people informed of the potential risk of COVID-19 infection.


The mobile application is available for Android phones (Version 5 and above) as well as iOS (Version 10.3 and above) platforms and available in 12 languages. When the citizens install the app, the citizens must first select the desired language, along with an Indian mobile number which is operative. Also, users must switch on their Bluetooth and set the location sharing to Always to ensure that the app is helpful to derive the relevant information. How does the app work? The mobile application uses Bluetooth technology based on a contact tracing mechanism. The app records details of all the people you have come in contact with within your routine daily life. It also uses GPS generated information to inform citizens of their proximity to anyone affected. If anyone of them, tests corona positive on any given day, the app immediately alerts you, and proactive medical advisories pertaining to it are arranged.


The app can also identify potential hotspots around your locality. It asks you to self-assess yourself when you start the app which helps in correlating the symptoms (if any) to report along. This is helpful for immediate treatment to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. The data you share into the app directly goes into the portal of the GOI and does not disclose your name and number to the public/citizens at large.


Features of the Aarogya Setu app?


The application is divided into 4 different sections:

  • User’s Status: It tells citizens the risk of getting affected by COVID within a radius of 500m, 1km, 2km, 5km, and 10km. It also informs you that which Aarogya Setu users have been affected or are unwell.

  • Self- Assess: It helps the users to self -assess themselves according to their symptoms and their risk ahead.

  • COVID-19 Updates: It is the news channel of the novel coronavirus. It gives you time to time update of the local and national COVID cases.

  • E-Pass: If any citizen of India has applied for an E-pass, it will be available. Also, it answers your FAQs regarding e-pass.


Who created The Aarogya Setu app?

The website of Aarogya Setu says it was developed by National Informatics Centre (NIC) and the Information Technology ministry. According to the website, the content is owned and maintained by MyGov which is also under the MEITY. But, as per the Central Information Commission (CIC), various ministries and departments had pulled up and evaded a Right to Information (RTI) query on who created the Aarogya Setu app. RTI activist, Saurav Das filed several RTIs requesting to know the answer to the validity of the creation of the app.


He asked in his RTI the details for the origin of the app, who approved it, which departments of government are involved in developing the same etc. But no department had any information about the same. The NIC in response to RTI filed said that they have no information on who created the app. MEITY didn’t bother to reply to the RTI filed.


Information Commissioner Vanaja N Sarna went hard on the government officials and the CIC and threatened them to penalize them with an amount of Rs. 25000 under Section 20 of the RTI Act. Later the government issued a public statement to underline that all information about the contacts tracing app was already in the public domain. But that wasn’t a full and evasive answer to the RTI queries. Conclusion: The so-called government directive Aarogya Setu app for all its citizens suffers from serious legal flaws. It fails to pass the proportionality test.


The CIC directed the Central Public Information Officer (CPIOs) and NIC to explain in writing how the website http://aarogyasetu.gov.in was created with the domain gov.in if they had no information. Moreover, an email has been directed to be sent by its Registry to the concerned authority to be present before the CIC on the next date of hearing. Also, it issues notices to MEITY, NeGD, and NIC to explain why penalty should not be imposed on them for prima facie obstruction of information. The matter has been listed for November 24.


Footnotes:

COVID: Corona Virus Disease

GPS: Global Positioning System

RTI: Right to Information

NIC: National Informatics Centre

CIC: Central Information Commission

CPIO: Central Public Information Officers

MEITY: Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, GOI

NeGD: National e-governance Division


Bibliography:

www.aarogyasetu.gov.in

thewire.in

www.thehindu.com

gadgets.ndtv.com

www.hindustantimes.com