Contact Tracing is the means to track Covid-19 patients as lockdown and social-distancing measures are being eased. It tells you if and when you were in proximity of someone who is infected by Covid-19. Once you know that you’re exposed/contracted, you can proceed with self-quarantine and treatment. Aarogya Setu is the name of India’s contact tracing app.
How does Aarogya Setu work?
The app, which is out on App and Play Store, uses the location and Bluetooth services of your smartphone. When you’re in a hotspot area or in close contact with someone affected, you’ll be notified over the phone.
Theoretically, here’s how it will work.
Basically, once you download the app, you’ll be required to register with some personal details like Name, Age, Gender, whether you’re affected, whether you’ve symptoms, whether you were out of the country in recent times, etc.
Now if every Indian has the app installed on their phone, and has filled correct details, then the infected will be effectively sifted. But, as you may argue this might not be practically possible due to
- Wrong data entry intentionally or otherwise.
- People might hesitate to install the app for a personal reason.
- People don’t even know about the app’s existence.
- They don’t have the ‘smart’ phone that supports this app.
But, those who can and are ready to install the app must be ready to work with a tiny probability of the other person having the app installed and running. And like they say, any precaution is better than none.
How to setup Aarogya Setu?
2. Open the app and pick the language you prefer.
3. The app will take you through its functioning and features. Read the information.
4. When you’re prompted, accept the location and Bluetooth permissions. Ensure the location is set to ‘Always’ option.
5. Enter your phone number and insert the OTP you’ll receive over SMS to confirm the number.
6. Fill in your personal details like your gender, full name, age, profession and whether you have traveled outside India in the last 30 days.
7. Answer other questions asked as a part of a 20-second Self-Assessment Test.
8. The app will show your health status based on the test you just had. If you are at ‘high risk’ or in a ‘high risk’ area, you’ll be asked to get tested and set an appointment at the nearest testing center by calling on the toll-free number 1075.
9. On this screen, you’ll see the safety instruction infographics and videos. You’ll also see the PM CARES donation option.
Is your data safe with the Aarogya Setu app?
Although the app assures privacy by on-device data processing and storage, it also mentions exceptions, when the information could be sent to the cloud. Government sources have claimed that the medical and health-related aspects of the app are consulted with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare whilst Meity manages the data side of things.
The Internet Freedom Foundation has also voiced concerns over information collection, purpose limitation, data storage, institutional divergence, and transparency and audibility.
Sidharth Deb, the IFF’s parliamentary and policy counsel, and the author of the report told ET, “the disclosed purpose for the app is vague enough for the government to repurpose it or expand its scope.”
It has also questioned the use of GPS location tracking beyond Bluetooth since the former doesn’t meet “privacy-focused global standards”.
However, the World Bank’s response has been affirming. In its South Economic Forum report, it said, “Privacy concerns can be dealt with by legislating sunset clauses on tracking systems. The region houses many poor and uneducated households that are nevertheless tech-savvy, and the innovative solutions technology could greatly help educate and track contagion across the populations at large.”
Even, Rahula Matthan, partner at legal consulting firm Trilegal has come to the support of the app’s privacy friendliness.
“First, personal information is de-identified at registration so that thereafter the app only uses a unique device identity to identify you, not your name or any other personal information. Second, the information that the app collects— those you come in contact with and your location information—is kept on the phone by default. It is only sent to the NIC servers when you have either come in contact with an infected person or where your probability of being infected is high. Finally, data that is collected by the app, both that which remains on your device and which has been uploaded to the servers are purged on a regular basis.” he told TOI.
To help public health officials slow the spread of #COVID19, Google & @Apple are working on a contact tracing approach designed with strong controls and protections for user privacy. @tim_cook and I are committed to working together on these efforts.https://t.co/T0j88YBcFu— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) April 10, 2020
Tech giants like Apple and Google have also followed India’s suit in developing a contact-tracing solution (based on Bluetooth LE only). Moreover, their approach will come as an integrated and inter-operable feature with the respective operating system.
But for any of these initiatives to work, citizen compliance is crucial.
Other Covid-19/Coronavirus articles:
- Corona Kavach
- Indian Gov.’s Telegram Corona Fact Checker Channel
- Online tools to get you through the Covid 19 pandemic
- Book Covid 19 online test in India
- Get e-passes to travel in Delhi amid lockdown
- Grocery Home delivery apps working during the lockdown
- Reliance Jio symptoms checker tool
- List of Covid 19 testing centers in India
- Various measures by tech giants
- AarogyaSetu Mitr offers free Covid-19 consultations & Doorstep Labs/Meds
- Aarogya Setu app is now Open-Source, Govt announces bug bounty
- How to prevent Aarogya Setu from closing in the background?