Prime Minister Narendra Modi encouraged all citizens of India to download the app while addressing the nation on Tuesday, something that’s given it a major shot in the arm.
The Government of India’s Aarogya Setu COVID-19 tracking app is off to a blazing start. The Aarogya Setu app has crossed the 5 Crore user mark in just 13 days of launch, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant announced on microblogging website Twitter on Wednesday. The Aarogya Setu app was launched for Android and iOS devices on April 2 and serves as the Government of India’s first truly comprehensive COVID-19 tracking app aimed to connect health services with the people to fight the novel coronavirus outbreak.
There are many reasons why Aarogya Setu has seemingly become ‘viral’ in India. The biggest reason, of course, being that it is the first ‘comprehensive’ COVID-19 tracking app from the Government of India. And the Government of India is also being very vocal in promoting it across platforms. Prime Minister Narendra Modi even encouraged all citizens of India to download the app while addressing the nation on Tuesday, something that’s given it a major shot in the arm — adding 1 Crore new users within the next 24 hours.
Telephone took 75 years to reach 50 milion users, radio 38 yrs,television 13 yrs,Internet 4 yrs, Facebook 19 months, Pokemon Go 19 days. #AarogyaSetu,India’s app to fight COVID-19 has reached 50 mn users in just 13 days-fastest ever globally for an App
Salute the spirit of India! pic.twitter.com/xKqt3Tmj4f
— Amitabh Kant (@amitabhk87) April 14, 2020
Aarogya Setu uses Bluetooth and GPS to notify users when they might possibly be at a risk of exposure to COVID-19. While GPS tracks your location in real time, Bluetooth tracks if and when a user comes in close proximity with someone with Novel Coronavirus — up to a distance of 6 feet. The most important aspect of Aarogya Setu is that it has access to the Government of India’s database of known cases.
Aarogya Setu also offers a host of other features in addition to COVID-19 tracking. It gives you information about COVID-19, including do’s and don’ts and safety measures, plus it can also help direct you to your nearest COVID-19 help center should you be exposed.
As useful and popular as it is, the app is also generating privacy concerns from cybersecurity experts. The Aarogya Setu app has been alleged to collect sensitive user data such as a user’s gender and travel history by New Delhi-based Software Freedom Law Centre, while the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) has alleged that it lacks transparency.
That’s the sort of concern that Apple and Google are looking to address through their under-the-works Bluetooth-based COVID-19 contact tracing system, for iOS and Android devices. Be that as it may, no contact tracing system can be one hundred percent private. Even Bluetooth can be hacked, though not as easily as GPS and location-based services. The only silver lining here is that all these apps and systems allow users to opt-in, which means users have a choice — at least on the face of it.