The government of India on Friday announced that all private and public sector employees are ordered to use the government-backed contact tracing app, Aarogya Setu, and also maintain social distancing in their workplaces as the country starts to steadily lift the lockdown across regions less affected by COVID-19.
The Narendra Modi government recently stated that the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus would extend for two more weeks, however, moderate relaxations would be allowed across lower-risk areas.
India, in April, launched the dedicated Aarogya Setu app, a GPS and Bluetooth based system that notifies its users who might have been in contact with a person who later tested positive for coronavirus.
The Ministry of Home Affairs stated that the use of the Aarogya Setu app would be made compulsory for all employees across both public and private businesses. The heads of the companies would be responsible for ensuring 100% coverage amongst their employees.
However, as per the reports, the app has only been downloaded approximately 83 million times in a country having a smartphone user base of around 500 million.
The mandatory use of Aarogya Setu is fueling concerns among a number of privacy advocates who claim that it is yet unclear how the collected data would be used. The advocates are also stressing that the country lacks the privacy laws necessary to govern this app.
The tech ministry stated that the Aarogya Setu app will help the government to better identify the virus hotspots and effectively target health efforts in these areas. Adding further and that the data collected would only be utilized for carrying out required medical interventions.
Meanwhile, as per the reports, approximately 400 million of the country’s population does not own a smartphones and thus would not be covered by this initiative.