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RTI reveals Ministry of Electronics has no information about the creators of Aarogya Setu, govt issues clarification

National Informatics Centre (NIC), which designs government websites and falls under the Ministry of Electronics, has no information about the creation of Aarogya Setu App, an RTI has revealed.

twitter-logoYasmin Ahmed | October 28, 2020 | Updated 23:28 IST
An RTI filed two months back has revealed that the National Informatics Centre has no information about the creators of Aarogya Setu app.

Highlights

  • An RTI filed two months back has revealed that the National Informatics Centre has no information about the creators of Aarogya Setu app.
  • The CIC questioned NIC asking how it does not have information about Aarogya Setu’s creation when the website mentions that it was designed, developed and hosted by NIC.
  • The CIC also issued show-cause notices to various Chief Public Information Officers (CPIOs) for giving an evasive response and said the addressees “cannot simply wash their hands off saying there is no information.”

An RTI filed two months back has revealed that the National Informatics Centre (NIC), which designs government websites and falls under the Ministry of Electronics, has no information about the creators of Aarogya Setu App. The Central Information Commission (CIC) on Tuesday asked the National Informatics Centre (NIC) why it does not have information about the creators of the Aarogya Setu when Aarogya Setu website mentions that it was designed, developed and hosted by NIC.

The CIC also issued show-cause notices to various Chief Public Information Officers (CPIOs) as well as the National e-Governance Division (NeGD), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), and NIC for giving an evasive response to an RTI application related the contact tracing app that has crores of users.

"The Commission directs the CPIO, NIC to explain this matter in writing as to how the website https://aarogyasetu.gov.in/ was created with the domain name gov.in, if they do not have any information about it," Information Commissioner Vanaja N Sarna said in the order, first reported by LiveLaw.com.

Saurav Das, the petitioner, filed a complaint against the relevant authorities stating that they had failed to furnish information about the process of creation of Aarogya Setu App and other information relating to its creation.
He also submitted that even NeGC and MeitY had not provided any information relating to the App's creation.

Das submitted an RTI to get information about the developer of the app but was surprised when NIC responded saying it had no information on the creation of the app despite being its developer. "None of the CPIOs were able to explain anything regarding who created the App, where are the files, and the same is extremely preposterous," the CIC stated.

Das had stated concerns and asked for information about the files relating to the app's creation, who gave inputs for the creation and the measures that exist to check for misuse of the personal data of millions of Indians. The commission noted that the authorities had used Section 6(3) of the Act to transfer the RTI application to one-another but no one had disclosed any information.

"The addressees cannot simply wash their hands off by stating that the information is not available with them. Some effort should have been put in to find out the custodian(s) of the information sought, by the concerned public authorities when apparently they are the relevant parties," the CIC said.

Later on Tuesday, the government issued a formal clarification on the matter saying there should not be any doubt about the Aarogya Setu App.

"Aarogya Setu App was launched by the Government of India in public-private partnership mode and was developed in a record time of around 21 days. Aarogya Setu is a made in India contact tracing app with the best of Indian minds from the industry, academia, and government. The names of all those associated with the development of the App and management of the App ecosystem at various stages were shared when the code was released in the public domain and was widely shared in the media. Aarogya Setu App has been developed by NIC in collaboration with volunteers from Industry and Academia," government sources said.

They further noted that Aarogya Setu app has been developed in the most transparent manner and all details and documents including privacy policy and Aarogya Setu data access and knowledge sharing protocols issued on May 11, 2020, have been uploaded on the Aarogya Setu Portal aarogyasetu.gov.in. The portal has all details about the app including those regarding how it works, COVID updates and why one should use Aarogya Setu. Regular updates about Aarogya Setu app have been shared on all social media platforms as well as government portals.

(with inputs from Rahul Shrivastava)

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