Karnataka HC bars Centre from sharing Aarogya Setu app data without user consent | Bengaluru - Hindustan Times
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Karnataka HC bars Centre from sharing Aarogya Setu app data without user consent

BySharan Poovanna | Edited by Sparshita Saxena, Bengaluru
Jan 25, 2021 11:20 PM IST

The Central government launched Aarogya Setu app last year in April in a bid to track Covid-19 infections and check its spread.

Karnataka High Court on Monday issued orders restraining the Government of India and other agencies from sharing data of Aarogya Setu application without obtaining informed consent of its users.

Aarogya Setu application.(AP)
Aarogya Setu application.(AP)

A division bench of Karnataka chief justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Vishwajith Shetty issued the interim orders that stated, “Till further orders, we hereby restrain the Government of India and National Informatics Centre, the eighth and seventh respondents respectively, from sharing the response data by applying the provisions of the Aarogya Setu Data Access and Knowledge Sharing Protocol, 2020...”

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The court, emphasising privacy in its 50-page-long order issued on Monday, said that it prima facie holds that there is no informed consent of users of Aarogya Setu app taken for

sharing of response data as provided in the Aarogya Setu Data Access and Knowledge Sharing Protocol, 2020.

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“This is to an extent of issuing an interim injunction and the court has not yet decided on the merits of the case yet,” said an advocate aware of the developments, requesting anonymity.

"The interim relief is only confined to the data sharing protocol," the advocate added.

The Central government launched Aarogya Setu app last year in April in a bid to track Covid-19 infections and check its spread. But the app, which has been downloaded over 100 million times from the Google play store, had raised concerns on issues of privacy of the data collected by government authorities.

The app had become a critical part of the government’s orders through the Covid-19 pandemic and its gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions as people were required to have it installed in their smartphones before entering restaurants, cinema halls, metro stations among other public places.

Another advocate of one of the respondents said that the order is that the government is directed that they cannot share the data with any private agencies unless there is consent from the user.

“The interim order, to the extent that sharing of data with other agencies is concerned, is stayed,” the second person cited above said.

In September last year, the National Informatics Centre, which designs government websites, said that it had no information on who created the app or how. It fueled more concerns from activists.

“After the filing of an affidavit and the documents as aforesaid, it will be open for the said respondents to apply for vacating the limited interim relief granted as above,” the court added.

The petition was filed in Karnataka HC on June 2, 2020.

The court also recorded the assurance of the Union government that it would not deny any benefit or services to a citizen only on the ground that they had not installed the Aarogya Setu app.

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