“Who Created Arogya Setu” issue: NIC rejects its role in creation in a RTI query

The National Informatics Centre recently claimed that it did not create the Arogya Setu mobile application. NIC claimed so in its reply to a Right to Information Query.

Highlights

The Ministry of Electronics and IT had earlier claimed that the Arogya Setu Application was launched by Government of India in Public-Private Partnership mode. According to the ministry, the application was developed by National Informatics Centre (NIC) in association with a private firm. NIC is responsible for handling Government websites.

Show Cause Notices

Following the issue, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has now issued a Show cause notice to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and National Informatics Centre. Also, the CIC has asked the NIC to explain in writing on how Arogya Setu Application and its websites were created.

The Government of India had been encouraging the public at large scale to download the app before entering theatres, hotels and other public places. At some of the Government offices, the application was made mandatory as well.

Now, this has raised privacy issues as a vacuum has been created upon development of Arogya Setu application.

Why the concerns?

Usually before an application is installed by a user, the developer asks for permission to access certain information of the phone. The application uses only the user permitted data data obtained from the phone for its functioning. Now, with the developer of the application become unknown, there are possibilities of illegal data retrieval from the users of the applications. Thus, the concerns are being raised.

Arogya Setu Application

It is a contact tracing application. The application informs the user if he or she has crossed a COVID-19 positive patient. By this, the spread of the virus can be contained. It served as an e-pass for the workers to commute. The students giving exams in a common exam centre were asked to download the app.

Since its launch, the GoI did not provide concrete assurance that the centralised data would not be used for other purposes.

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