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Aarogya Setu: the only ‘desi app’ amongst top ten downloaded

So what exactly is the Aarogya Setu? 

Aarogya Setu identifies itself as a ‘contract tracing, syndromic mapping and self -assessment’ digital service. Basically it is an open source mobile app for tracing the flow of the Covid-19 virus amongst the people of the country , designed and developed by National Informatics Centre under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. Within 40 days of being launched the app reached 100 million installs. Aarogya Setu app is available on both Android and iOS and can be downloaded via respective App stores.

How does it work? 

The English meaning of Aarogya Setu literally translates to ‘bridge for liberation (from the disease)’. The app is designed in a way to use data provided by the users, Bluetooth and location generated social graph to track if one has come across anyone who could have tested COVID-19 positive. The app also keeps a GPS record of all places the device located itself, at 15 minute intervals. These records are stored until any user admits to COVID symptoms through the app’s self assessment survey features. If anyone is found positive, the records are uploaded to the servers. 

Protection or threat? 

The biggest concern and controversy generated by the app is whether it is solely protective in its application or possesses serious personal security or privacy threats to users. Several ethical hackers and experts have found the app policy and features to pose breaches to privacy of users. As of now the country has no legislation as to how the online privacy of the people of India is to be protected. Hence users have limited option but to accept the government determined privacy policy of the app. However the government has made the source code of android and more recently iOS public. Further, the Government has also launched a “bug bounty program”. This was done to “promote transparency and ensure security and integrity of the app”. Following this, ZDNet noted that the source code seemed to confirm the government’s claim that user location data, if collected, would be anonymised and would be deleted after 45 days, or 60 days for high-risk individuals. NITI Aayog CEO revealed that “the app has been able to identify more than 3,000 hotspots in 3–17 days ahead of time.

Why the youth in India needs to have this app?

If you make a first or a second degree contact with a COVID-19 positive person, Aarogya Setu alerts you and gets you timely medical help. The self-assessment test also helps you in identifying possibilities of infection.

By early identification and prevention of potential risk of infection in you and others, Aarogya Setu enables better safety for those around you, acting as a shield of protection for all your loved ones. The more number of people use it, the more effective the app will be in chaining the pandemic.

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