Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday termed Centre's Arogya Setu app a 'sophisticated surveillance system' and said that fear of coronavirus pandemic can't be leveraged to track citizens without their consent. Gandhi said that the Arogya Setu app, promoted by the central government as a tool to battle the coronavirus, the government outsourced the app to a private operator without any institutional oversight which raised "serious privacy concerns".
"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 wrote on Twitter.
Aarogya Setu is a contact tracing app promoted by the central government as a "powerful companion" which protects people from coronavirus pandemic. The mobile application uses location and Bluetooth to alert its user if there is any coronavirus positive nearby. The app also helps users identify if they are at the risk of infection by evaluating their current symptoms.
Rahul Gandhi's remarks came days after the Centre made it mandatory for both government and private sector employees to download the app. According to a new government order, participation on the app will be necessary for private and government sector employees as well as for people within a containment zone.
Government hits back at Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi's data security concerns irked Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was quick to counter the Congress leader on Twitter. The minister accused Gandhi of "lying" and claimed that the Arogya Setu app has a robust data security architecture.
"Daily a new lie. Aarogya Setu is a powerful companion which protects people. It has a robust data security architecture. Those who indulged in surveillance all their lives, won't know how tech can be leveraged for good!" Prasad said.