COVID-19: Government of India mandates all its employees to ‘immediately’ download Aarogya Setu App

THE Central Government on Wednesday issued an order asking all the officers, staff (including outsourced staff) working under it to download ‘Aarogya Setu’ App on their mobile phones, immediately.

Further, according to the order, before starting for office, staff must review their status on ‘Aarogyasetu’ and commute only when the app shows ‘safe’ or ‘low risk’ status.

“The officers/staff are advised that in case the App shows a message that he/she has a ‘moderate’ or ‘high risk’ calculated on the basis of Bluetooth proximity (“recent contact with infected person”), he/she should not come to office and self isolate for 14 days or till the status becomes ‘safe’ or ‘low risk’”, said the order.

Joint Secretary (Administration) has been asked to ensure these directions are strictly followed in the respective Ministry/Department.

The order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) also said ministries/departments may issue similar instructions to all autonomous/statutory bodies, PSUs etc. attached to them.

Earlier, Prasar Bharati (India’s Public Service Broadcaster) on April 14, had made it mandatory for its staff to install the ‘AarogyaSetu’ app.

On April 2, the Government of India launched a mobile app called ‘AarogyaSetu’ to bring the people of India together in a resolute fight against COVID-19. According to the government, this App would enable people to assess themselves the risk for their catching the Corona Virus infection. Further, it would calculate this based on their interaction with others, using cutting edge Bluetooth technology, algorithms and artificial intelligence.

According to the government, once installed in a smartphone, the app detects other devices with AarogyaSetu installed that come in the proximity of that phone.

The app can then calculate the risk of infection based on sophisticated parameters if any of these contacts are tested positive. The App would, according to the government, help it to take necessary timely steps for assessing the risk of spread of COVID-19 infection and ensuring isolation where required.

Reacting to the decision of the Centre’s to make ‘Aarogyasetu’ App mandatory, Internet Freedom Forum (IFF)- an Indian digital liberties organization, said  ‘Aarogya Setu’ has a direct impact on the privacy, cybersecurity of every user. It becomes significant for Government employees whose each movement will be tracked. These issues cannot be accounted for by a privacy policy. It requires significant legal & technical changes.

It added ‘Aarogya Setu’ as office order of the Government is also being used for displaying the “status” of users. This is an active determination of the medical status of a user (by “Bluetooth Proximity”) and is being integrated into the ability of users to work & hence their livelihood.

It also said that it recognize larger healthcare priorities — to safeguard the health of each user. But, Aarogya Setu has several core defects in its design & implementation. It, therefore, urged for restraint.



Read the Order issued by the Government here: