Government launches surveillance apps to tackle COVID-19

The government has launched the Aarogya Sethu mobile app to help with the fight against COVID-19. Earlier, it had launched the Corona Kavach app.

Aarogya Sethu App

The Aarogya Sethu app was launched by the Ministry of Electronics and IT. The mobile app allows its users to check whether they had been in contact with COVID-19 patients. It makes use of bluetooth technology and location data. This location based surveillance app is available in 11 languages.

Corona Kavach App

The Corona Kavach app was jointly launched by the Ministry of Electronics and IT and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The app uses GPS to determine whether the user had crossed paths with a COVID-19 patient. The data is to be available only to the government.

Provisions under the IT Act

The launch of these mass surveillance apps has raised concerns about the privacy of people. However, experts agree with the necessity of such measures given the exceptional nature of the COVID-19 situation. Also the section 69 of the IT Act, 2000 has provisions for data interception and monitoring by the government in the interest of:

  • Sovereignty/ integrity of India
  • Security of the state
  • Defence of the state
  • Public order
  • Friendly relations with foreign state
  • Preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence

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