The Government of India has launched a mobile app called Aarogya Setu to help people assess their risk of contracting the coronavirus. Developed through a public-private partnership, the app uses Bluetooth and GPS to track whether the user has been in close contact with anyone infected with the novel virus. It does so by detecting other devices with Aarogya Setu in close proximity of each other.

While many social media users are wondering about the privacy repercussions of an app that is designed to track users and their interactions with others, the Government claims that the tracking will help them take the necessary steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The app requires Bluetooth, location and data-sharing permissions, but the privacy policy states that all personal data collected by the app is encrypted and stays on the phone until it is needed for facilitating medical intervention.

According to the official Play Store listing page: “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”. The app is available in 11 languages on Android and iOS.

The Arogya Setu launch comes close on the heels of the release of a similar app called Corona Kavach that the government claims will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Developed jointly by MeitY and the Health Ministry, the app uses GPS tracking to chart the recent locations visited by any user and triggers an alert if any of those locations match with the location data of known positive cases. It is available for download on Android, while an iOS version of the app is said to be in the works.

VIAFoneArena

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