Aarogya Setu App Installation Made Mandatory In Noida, App Team Rubbishes Security Risk
Not having the government’s Aarogya Setu App installed in your phone can get you into trouble in Noida and Greater Noida. According to a new order, the COVID-19 tracking app has been made mandatory and not installing it is now a punishable offence. Police authorities say that those found without the app could face imprisonment up to six months or have to pay a fine of INR 1,000.
The new directive applies to those living in Noida and Greater Noida and those entering the districts as per reports in Indian Express. This rule aims to ensure efficient tracking of coronavirus positive cases. DCP Akhilesh Kumar in a statement said that smartphone users found without the Aarogya Setu app can be “booked under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code – Disobedience to an order duly promulgated by the public servant”. Trials of these cases will then be referred to the judicial magistrate.
Meanwhile, Aarogya Setu app remains under the scanner of experts who warn against its security risks. French ethical hacker Elliot Alderson was recently in the news after he claimed to have found security issues in the app that uses Bluetooth signal strength to track carriers of the virus instead of GPS. Questions were raised and this little cryptic Tweet that read “P.S: Rahul Gandhi was right” raised some more of them:
A security issue has been found in your app. The privacy of 90 million Indians is at stake. Can you contact me in private?
PS: @RahulGandhi was right
— Elliot Alderson (@fs0c131y) May 5, 2020
Aarogya Setu’s team responded to the security issue alert. In a statement on their official Twitter handle, they put up information of the app’s permissions and clarified that no personal information of any user has been proven to be at risk. Moreover, if you’re a techie who has identified an issue with the app you can reach out to the team directly at email@example.com
— Aarogya Setu (@SetuAarogya) May 5, 2020
That offers some explanation as far as clarification goes. But if you’re still not convinced and are living in Noida or Greater Noida, it looks like you currently don’t have the option of stepping out on your errands (essentials only) without the Aarogya Setu app on your smartphone.
The government and PM Narendra urged citizens to download the Aarogya Setu app amidst the pandemic back in April and while it wasn’t an official directive, looks like states are doing their bit to enforce it as a part of the law. That being said one cannot make over eight crore people download the COVID-19 app and so there might be legal complications attached to it. Moreover, not everybody as a smartphone. Gautam Budh Nagar’s Police Commissioner in the Indian Express report said that there will be routine checks to make sure everyone has the app. If the app isn’t already downloaded, the cops in Noida may ask you to download it right there and then and if someone doesn’t have a smartphone on them, they’ll be asked to go fetch it from home. This leaves out a vast population that doesn’t have access to smartphones. So the new directive, although a bold move isn’t completely feasible for the Indian population.
Meanwhile, check out our detailed breakdown of why the app just might be the only way to track COVID-19 cases digitally: