Kerala court to hear case against India’s mandatory COVI9-19 app

The highest court in the southern Indian state of Kerala will today hear a challenge from the country’s opposition Congress

india covid app

Photo: TechCrunch

The highest court in the southern Indian state of Kerala will today hear a challenge from the country’s opposition Congress Party over an order for compulsory use of a COVID-19 tracking app.

The Indian government is requiring all public and private sector employees returning to work to register with Aarogya Setu or “Health Bridge,” a mobile phone application that uses Bluetooth and GPS to alert users who may have encountered someone who tested positive for COVID-19. With 94 million compulsory and voluntary downloads to date, the move has drawn considerable criticism from opposition politicians and digital rights activists, who claim the app abridges the principle of consent.

Concerns over privacy infringements in the world’s largest democracy appear to be well-founded given the considerable lack of transparency surrounding Aarogya Setu. To date, the app’s privacy policy and terms of service have not been publicly released. Likewise, since the app is not open source, third parties cannot easily review its code and functionality.

Regardless of how the court rules on the constitutionality of compelling downloads, the controversy is likely to spark a long-term debate on Indian digital rights, potentially spurring an opposition-backed call for a comprehensive law on national data privacy, which the country currently lacks in its entirety.

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