HYDERABAD: Free software advocates and privacy activists are rejoicing the Ministry of Home Affair’s apparent change in stance regarding the use of Aarogya Setu. In a notification that was issued on Sunday, the Ministry had announced that the app was not ‘mandatory’ anymore.
Software Freedom Law Centre, in a statement, said, “We welcome the MHA’s notification that nullifies the mandatory installation of Aarogya Setu application for employees and individuals in containment zones. We had earlier sent a joint letter to the Central and State governments on unwarranted, excessive collection and processing of personal data during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
Despite the good news, SFLC maintained that the app remained problematic. “Amid security and privacy concerns, the Aarogya Setu app still remains a closed-source application.” Internet Freedom Foundation echoed the concern and said, “We have recorded a small but significant win. The installation of Aarogya Setu has now been changed to a ‘best effort basis’ as per the new guidelines.”
“This change also comes after the Kerala High Court agreed to hear a plea drafted by IFF lawyers on behalf of Jackson Mathew. The petition called for voluntary use of Aarogya Setu,” it added.
City-based independent security researcher Srinivas Kodali said, “Mandatory or not, Aarogya Setu is of no use. Start investing efforts in healthcare, increase wages for staff, provide them with PPE, ventilators and masks. Take care of them so that they take care of us.”