New Delhi: India’s home affairs ministry (MHA) has stated that all private and public sector employees who go to their physical workplaces should download the Aarogya Setu contact tracing app, in a move that comes as several lockdown restrictions are set to ease from May 4.
The ministry has said that it will be the responsibility of the head of all the organisations to “ensure 100% coverage of this app among the employees”.
“Use of Arogya 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,” the MHA said in a new set of national directives for COVID-19 management that was released on Friday evening.
These directives appear to specifically pertain to rules for the office workplace, so it is unclear at the moment if the app must be downloaded for employees who continue to work from home after May 4.
Another section of the ministry’s guidelines also states that there must be 100% coverage of the app among residents who live in containment zones.
“Intensive surveillance mechanism… is to be established within the containment zone. The local authority shall ensure 100% coverage of the Aarogya Setu app among the residents of the containment zone,” the guidelines say.
“Unfortunately, the application…does not adhere to principles of minimisation, strict purpose limitation, transparency and accountability,” the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) said in its working paper on the app.
The IFF says it is “inconsistent with the right to privacy” and a risk toward a “permanent system of mass surveillance” and in a statement earlier on Friday suggested that it not be made mandatory for “workers in the gig economy as well as the traditional economy”.
Two days ago, the Narendra Modi government stated that all central government employees must download the app. On Thursday, media reports, quoting anonymous sources, said that the Centre is also planning to make it mandatory for all new smartphones that will be sold in India to have the app as a pre-installed service.
A new version of the mobile app, which will work on feature phones, is also in the works and is expected to be released soon.