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Aarogya Setu app to be pre-installed on smartphones soon

Ankita Chakravarti     April 30, 2020

Soon users will not have to manually download India's contact tracing app Aarogya Setu as that will be installed on smartphones by default. Prime Minister Modi had urged users to download the Aarogya Setu app in all his recent speeches as that would help to contain the spread of coronavirus.

According to a report published in Mint, the app will be pre-installed on all the phones soon. A source from a smartphone company and another from the Manufacturers Association for Information Technology (MAIT) confirmed the news to Mint. Earlier, the government had asked the smartphone makers to install the app by default but it wasn't possible as the manufacturing of the smartphones was halted due to the nationwide lockdown. However, the reports state that the smartphone makers will start working on it as soon as the manufacturing resumes.

A day ago, the government had asked all the government employees to download the Aarogy Setu app and should come to office only if their status in the app shows "safe".

"Before starting for office, they must review their status on 'Aarogya Setu' and commute only when the app shows 'safe' or 'low risk' status," the order issued by Ministry read.The report further stated that the central government employees should stay at home if their status on app says "high risk" or "moderate".

The Aarogya Setu app became the most-downloaded app in India with over 75 million downloads.It is still not mandatory for citizens to download the app but once the lockdown is lifted the government might make it mandatory for everyone. There were reports claiming that the app will be used by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and Delhi Metro to screen people who wish to use the service once lockdown is lifted. Also, recently the delivery app Zomato and Urban Company made the app mandatory for their delivery and service executives.

Interestingly, India isn't the only app relying on contact-tracing app to contain the spread of coronavirus. Singapore in fact was the first country to develop a contact tracing app and South Korea too followed suit and was able to contain the spread to a great extent.

Despite the popularity, the app exposed some users' data, including location data, to YouTube. The security bug came to light when the New York Times wrote about it. However, the bug has been fixed now. "Recently, Team Aarogya Setu was made aware that if a user performed a very specific set of actions, YouTube could access the anonymized latitude and longitude of the user," the statement by Aarogya Setu noted.

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