App Adoption: Govt needs to incorporate more features to drive Aarogya Setu adoption

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Published: May 8, 2020 5:20:19 AM

According to an Indian Express report, on May 3, the Gautam Budh Nagar Police issued an order that all residents of Noida or Greater Noida, and anyone entering the city will need to download the Aarogya Setu app.

Such orders can be argued to be in public interest, but they violate the privacy of a person and reek of a nanny state. Such orders can be argued to be in public interest, but they violate the privacy of a person and reek of a nanny state.

The government needs to push adoption of Aarogya Setu app for more efficient contact tracing—a report from Maharashtra shows that the state could only do so in 57% of the cases—but the Noida police making travelling around without the app a crime adds to a long list of faux pas by overzealous authorities. According to an Indian Express report, on May 3, the Gautam Budh Nagar Police issued an order that all residents of Noida or Greater Noida, and anyone entering the city will need to download the Aarogya Setu app. The order further stated that people can be booked under Section 188 of the IPC—relating to disobedience of an order promulgated by a public servant, with a fine of Rs 1,000 or imprisonment upto six months—for failure to download the app.

Such orders can be argued to be in public interest, but they violate the privacy of a person and reek of a nanny state. A better idea would be to drive adoption by incorporating more features in the app. While the government has done well to periodically update the app—the service has attracted 9.1 crore downloads till now—it needs to keep adding new offerings. For instance, the new feature that shows how many people within 500m, 1, 5 and 10km radius have been detected positive warns a user whether she is residing in a sensitive zone. Once the government incorporates services like e-passes, and live updates on the app, more people will download it. The government must urgently address security and privacy concerns and make it seem a necessity for people to have the app rather than force it on them.

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