Aarogya Setu App Sparks Surveillance Fears, Organizations Petition PMO

Forty organizations have signed a petition requesting the Prime Minister to act against the mandatory use of the Aarogya Setu app. The app digitally traces COVID-19 contact and was launched to control the virus from spreading.
The petition was sent on 1st May with a cover letter on 2nd May after a recent order by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) which made it mandatory for all public and private workplaces to download Aarogya Setu contact tracing app. “Use of Aarogya Setu app shall be made mandatory for all employees, both private and public. It shall be the responsibility of the head of the respective organizations to ensure 100% coverage of this app among the employees” said the MHA in the directives for COVID-19 management released on 1st May 2020.
The petition says that the Aarogya Setu app’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Service do not comply with data protection principles of purpose limitation, data minimalization, storage limitation, accuracy, integrity, and transparency. While the government initially claimed that the use of Aarogya Setu would be purely voluntary, downloading the app was soon made mandatory for all Central Armed Police Forces personnel and employees of Prasar Bharati. However, as per news reports, army personnel have been instructed not to use the Aarogya Setu app at office premises, operational areas, and sensitive locations due to data security concerns.
In view of the present crisis, experts fear that personal and sensitive data may be misused at a later stage after the virus is eradicated. “In the absence of a legislative guarantee containing a sunset clause, sensitive personal data … could be misused for profiling and mass surveillance even after the COVID-19 outbreak is over.”
The undersigned organizations include Amnesty India, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Asia Dalit Rights Forum, All India Central Council of Trade Unions, People’s Union for Democratic Rights, Delhi Solidarity Group, Digital Empowerment Foundation, Feminism in India Forum Against Oppression of Women, Bombay Foundation for Media Professionals, Free Software Community of India, Human Rights Law Network, Indian Delivery Lions Organization, etc. A separate cover letter was also sent by the Internet Freedom Foundation asking for a review of the order from the MHA.