The Modi government's Aarogya Setu app, developed to track COVID-19 infected cases, has scored negative on three of five data-privacy and transparency indicators for coronavirus-tracking apps, according to a review of the global technology by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Launched in April, the mobile application scored positive on the timely deletion of user data and collection of only useful data criteria, but it failed to score on voluntary use, limitations of data usage, and transparency criteria, as per MIT experts.
India's Aarogya Setu app, with over 9 crore users as of now, has been the most downloaded app on Google Play Store. The app works by using both Bluetooth and GPS location data.
Located in Cambridge, United States, Massachusetts Institute of Technology is considered as the world's best university for technical education. The university released its findings of contact-tracing apps on the basis of their privacy, transparency, enforcement, and handling of data across the world.
The MIT tracker, which was launched on Thursday, has documented 25 such tools after analysing "what they are, how they work, and what policies and processes have been put in place around them".
Meanwhile, COVID-19 app developed by Singapore, Australia, Norway, Israel, Czech Republic, Iceland and Austria have scored positive on all five categories.
China, where deadly novel coronavirus originated, has scored zero on all these five parameters, while France, Ireland and Iran scored on only one parameter. Germany scored on only two out of the five parameters.
South Korea, which has been most successful in containing coronavirus fatalities, doesn't feature in the MIT tracker list.
Another article in the same journal highlighted that India is the only democracy to have made COVID-19 tracker app mandatory for its people.
Earlier this month, the Centre had made it mandatory for government and private sector employees to use Aarogya Setu mobile application to bolster the efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and entrusted the organisational heads with ensuring its 100 per cent coverage.
The App is aimed at augmenting the initiatives of the Government of India, particularly the Department of Health, in proactively reaching out to and informing its users regarding risks, best practices and relevant advisories pertaining to the containment of COVID-19.
The mobile application helps users identify whether they are at risk of coronavirus infection. It also provides people with important information, including ways to avoid coronavirus infection and its symptoms.
By Chitranjan Kumar