Who created Aarogya Setu? No info from Ministry, RTI body issues show cause notification

By Archita Srivastava

The National Informatics Center, which designs government websites, has reported that it has no details about who developed the Aarogya Setu app and how it was created. The Chief Information Commission has drawn up the NIC, which falls under the Ministry of Electronics, and has given a notice of show cause to various Chief Public Information Officers asking them to refer to the RTI request that asked them about the Covid-19 contact tracing. The response can not be evasive, the CIC said, as per media reports. 

The complaint was lodged by one Saurav Das who claimed to have approached the NIC, the National E-Governance Division (NeGD), and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology seeking information on the existence of an application downloaded by millions of Indians during the lock-up. Downloading a smartphone application is also a must before accessing restaurants, cinemas, metro stations, as stipulated by the Ministry of Home Affairs. But Das said that neither NIC nor the ministry had data regarding the creations of the app, Hindustan Times reported.  

The CIC has also asked the National Information Technology Center to clarify why its name is on the website, but it does not have any information about it. 

“The Commission directs the CPIO, NIC to explain this matter in writing as to how the website https://aarogyasetu.gov.in/ was created with the domain name gov.in, if they do not have any information about it,” Information Commissioner Vanaja N Sarna has ordered. 

The CIC noted that it is not just about the creation of the app that nobody “seems to have” any knowledge of the files generated, the feedback obtained, the audit steps taken to verify whether or not personal data is being misused. 

Concerns about the software and its security features have already been created. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had previously accused the government of violating data protection. “The Arogya 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,” he had tweeted. 

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad then denied the allegations and said that Aarogya Setu had not been outsourced to any private operator.

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