Thursday, May 7, 2020

Jio Phones to get Aarogya Setu app soon

Indian government's Covid-19 tracking app, Aarogya Setu, is all set to be rolled out for Jio Phones that has an user base of several crores. 

The Aarogya Setu App, which has already hit the 9 crore mark in terms of downloads, is now available for both Android and iOS. And now the government is ready to extend it to the KaiOS-based Jio Phone models.

In a video chat with Hindustan Times MyGov India’s CEO Abhishek Singh said, “For the Jio phones which use the KaiOS operating system, we are developing a version of Aarogya Setu which will work on KaiOS and the Jio phone so that around 11 crore more people will be covered with that version of the app.” 

The roll out date for accessing the app Jio phones is not confirmed as yet.

The Aarogya Setu app is also likely to be made available to feature phones via IVRS (Interactive Voice Response System).

Aarogya Setu app, which is available in 11 languages was launched on April 2, offers a self-assessment test, and captures the user’s vulnerability to Covid-19 infection and gives contextual advice. The app uses Bluetooth and GPS-based location tracking to identify the possible positive coronavirus cases around the user. 

Dogged by controversies

The app is said to be mandatory in new phones. The government had reached out to the phone manufacturers to pre-install the app once production resumes after the lockdown.

Also, last week, the Ministry of Home Affairs in a notification had allowed factories and offices in designated zones to begin operations while mandating the use of the contact tracing Aarogya Setu app by all employees and entrusted the organisational heads with ensuring its 100 percent coverage.

But even as the app has become popular, it has also been dogged by controversies. It has been hit by charges of being a surveillance app. And an ethical hacker had also claimed that the app suffered from safety and privacy vulnerability issues.

"In the name of contact tracing, Aarogya Setu collects registration details, GPS locations, nearby device data and this can be used to identify your social graph. The app collects too much information on registration and none of this data is required for contact tracing," is the allegation against the app.

The government, for its part, has clarified that the user data will not be shared, and all personal information is stored locally on the device and will be used  “in anonymised, aggregated datasets for the purpose of generating reports, heat maps and other statistical visualisations for the purpose of the management of Covid-19 in the country or if the user tests positive, or comes in contact with someone who has tested positive.” 


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