Senior BJP leader and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad
Senior BJP leader and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad
File pic

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has lashed out at Opposition parties over their constant criticism of the Aaroghya Setu app.

Attending a conclave organized by news channel Aaj Tak, Prasad said that those who have a problem with the app need not download it.

The app claims that it helps in cautioning a user of any nearby COIVD19 patients and also helps in tracing the contacts of infected patients.

“The app is a sophisticated surveillance system and if people have a problem with it, they need not download it,” he said, adding terrorists and the corrupt are do not have any privacy.

Earlier, a Buzzfeed report claimed that the engineer had cracked the application and skilled all the process to fill in the data.He managed to bypass a page that requested personal information like name, age, gender, travel history, and COVID-19 symptoms. Moreover, requests to access Bluetooth and GPS of the phone were also shunned.

Responding to the report, the Aarogya Setu Twitter handle reacted to the report and stating that all data on the app was voluntary.

On Monday, the government has issued guidelines for processing of data collected through Aarogya Setu app that bar storage of data for more than six months and specify jail term for violators of certain rules.

Amid rise in concerns about data privacy of people who use the app, the guidelines provide an option to individuals to seek deletion of their data from the record within 30 days of making such a request while a senior government official asserted that "privacy is an important aspect of Aarogya Setu".

Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) Secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney while talking to reporters said, "Lot of work has been done over data privacy. A good privacy policy has been made to ensure that personal data of people are not misused. We provide these information to check an area from becoming a hotspot. Privacy is an important aspect of Aarogya Setu."

The fresh guidelines allow collection of only demographic, contact, self-assessment and location data of persons infected by the coronavirus or those who come in contact with the infected person. Sawhney also heads an empowered group to deal with the pandemic.

Earlier, French cyber security expert and ethical hacker Elliot Alderson put out a detailed thread highlighting the issues of the app.

In a series of tweets he wrote: "A mobile application that send your GPS coordinates regularly to a server owned by a government is a surveillance system."

These events come after Rahul Gandhi's concerns about the app. Following Gandhi's statement, the ethical hacker felt obliged to check into the Modi government app himself and revealed the aforementioned 'findings'.

The Aarogya Setu app is available in 11 languages on both Android as well as iOS devices. It has been downloaded by 90 million people so far.

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