‘Sophisticated surveillance system’: Rahul Gandhi on Aarogya Setu app
A day after the Centre made it mandatory for workers in both private and public offices to download the Aarogya Setu app, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to accuse the government of building a sophisticated surveillance system which raised serious data and privacy concerns.
“The Aarogya Setu app is a sophisticated surveillance system, outsourced to a pvt operator, with no institutional oversight - raising serious data security & privacy concerns. Technology can help keep us safe; but fear must not be leveraged to track citizens without their consent,” Gandhi tweeted.
IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad called Gandhi’s accusation a lie and said the app not outsourced to a private operator. “Daily a new lie. Aarogya Setu is a powerful companion which protects people. It has a robust data security architecture. Those who indulged in surveillance all their lives, won’t know how tech can be leveraged for good,” Prasad tweeted in response to Gandhi’s tweets.
The app, launched by the government on April 2 to contact-trace people affected by the coronavirus, has now been expanded to host several functions. It now uses location data to identify potential hotspots, integrates the e-pass of different states, in addition to health information and telemedicine facilities.
Some privacy experts and opposition leaders have raised concerns on the app’s mandate. AIMIM leader Assaduddin Owaisi on Friday said the app is “very shady”. “Now Delhi’s Sultans have issued a ‘farmaan’(edict) that people have no choice in the matter. They must share their private data with the government,” tweeted Owaisi.
Reacting to it, I&B minister Prakash Javadekar said that such data is being used worldwide, and the app will continue to remain relevant for the next 1-2 years. “It curbs false information and you also know if there is a Covid-19 positive person in your vicinity,” said Javadekar.
BJP leader Sambit Patra said that Gandhi is ignorant about the Aarogya Setu and is trying to mislead people through misinformation. “The government on multiple occasions has allayed the fears of surveillance and that too scientifically. The said app is a technical personal bodyguard to each one of us in the fight against Covid-19. Congress should refrain from using the pandemic as a political opportunity,” Patra said.
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