Earlier this month, the Indian government launched its coronavirus tracking app ‘Aarogya Setu’. According to reports from LiveMint and News18 citing industry sources and government officials, the app may be installed by default on new smartphones and its registration might be mandatory to start using the phone.
“To enforce this decision, the government of India looks set to appoint nodal agencies that will be the point of contact for smartphone companies, and will be responsible to have the app installed without a skippable step for all new devices. This will make the Aarogya Setu app an inbuilt feature on all new smartphones, that will be sold in India going forward.”, states the report.
From this, it appears like smartphone OEMs would be asked to add software-based restrictions to lock users out of their phones unless they register their phones with Aarogya Setu during the initial smartphone setup process. At the time of writing this article, the government has not made an official statement regarding the matter.
As reported by Live Mint, the government had asked smartphone companies to preinstall Aarogya Setu on phones but that didn’t immediately come into effect due to disruptions in the supply chain that forced companies to pause the manufacturing process.
According to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), the app has already garnered over 75 million installations in the country. The government is also planning to use Aarogya Setu as an e-pass in common areas like metro stations, as recommended by The Central Industry Security Force (CISF). Meanwhile, a similar contact tracing solution for feature phones is also in the works.