India's contact tracing app will be voluntary in theory but mandatory in practice


The Indian authorities have said that the country's contact-tracing app, Aarogya Setu ("health bridge", in Sanskrit), will be voluntary - but mandatory for federal government employees, food delivery workers, and some other service providers. It may also be needed to access public transport and airports after the nationwide lockdown is lifted.

The app uses Bluetooth and location services to trace users' contacts, and keeps the personal data it collects on the phone, encrypted, until it is needed "for medical intervention". Like China's Alipay Health, Aaorgya Setu scores users' risk of being infected; to go to work federal employees must have a "safe" or "low risk" status. Local media reports suggest the app may soon be installed on all smartphones by default. The app has reportedly been downloaded 80 million times; 500 million out of India's 1.3 billion population use smartphones.
The Internet Freedom Foundation has called the app a "privacy minefield".


Writer: Rina Chandran and Annie Banerji
Publication: Reuters

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