Government To Make Source Code Of Aarogya Setu App Public Amid Privacy Controversy

Report By Nandika Chand | Kashmir Srinagar | Last Updated at May 27 2020

The Center is expected to release the source code for Aarogya Setu in the coming weeks. The coronavirus contact-tracing app is a key tool in containing the spread of COVID-19.

Amitabh Kant, the CEO of NITI Aayog, said opening the source code up to the developer community signifies the government’s continuing commitment. He said transparency, privacy and security have been the core design principles of Aarogya Setu.

However, Udbhav Tiwari the public policy adviser for Mozilla said the app still has some ground to cover before it can claim to be truly open source. “This includes open sourcing the server-side code and ensuring that the app is built exclusively from its public repository,” he said.

Since the launch of Aarogya Setu app in April, the government has found itself caught in a controversy. Cybersecurity experts have warned that data of millions of Indians collected through the app could pose a national security challenge. But government officials have rejected this claim saying that their encryption standards have adequate protection against data or network breaches. Officials said the app is meant to trace close contact between people so that they can be reached in the event if any of them gets infected with COVID-19

The center and respective state governments has been encouraging people to use Aarogya Setu for rail and air travel. It had been mandatory, now relaxed, for government workers to download the app.

So far, about 100 million people have downloaded the app. It uses bluetooth and GPS on smartphones to record when people come in close contact with one another. This is how contacts can be alerted if a person gets diagnosed with COVID-19.

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