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All Posts | Aug 14,2020

SFLC.IN’s letter to MeitY regarding fully open sourcing Aarogya Setu

SFLC.IN's letter to MeitY regarding fully open sourcing Aarogya Setu

The Aarogya Setu’s Android source code was open sourced and made available on GitHub Repository with much fan-fare on 26thMay, 2020 to be in line with India’s policy on Open Source Software.

However, only the source code of the client side of Android and iOS version has been made available. The server side code is yet to be made available despite the release of Aarogya Setu’s Android source code two months back. The Press Information Bureau’s Press Release dated 26.05.2020 had also stated that the iOS source code of Aarogya Setu will be released within the next two weeks and subsequently, the server code will be released as well. However, Android and iOS source codes are not fully open source yet, and source code of KaiOS app has not been released even after almost three months of open sourcing of Android client side source code.

SFLC.IN wrote to Hon'ble Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad urging him to fully open source Aarogya Setu and to be in compliance with the princuple of transparency, privacy and security as well as the Open Source Software Policy of the Government of India.

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All Posts | Jul 25,2020

Letter to Goa and Tamil Nadu Government Against Mandatory Installation of Aarogya Setu

Letter to Goa and Tamil Nadu Government Against Mandatory Installation of Aarogya Setu

Recently, the Government of Goa made Aarogya Setu mandatory for anyone entering the collectorate. After receiving flak, this was restricted to persons who own smartphones. Similarly, the Government of Tamil Nadu released a Standard Operating Procedure on "Resumption of training activities of sportspersons preparing for national and international events" dated July 24, 2020 which mandated the installation of Aarogya Setu for all staff and athletes visiting the sports complexes. 

SFLC.IN wrote to the Government of Goa and to the Government of Tamil Nadu urging them to reconsider mandatory installation of Aarogya Setu. This step by the Government of Goa and Tamil Nadu mandating installation of Aarogya Setu by persons who own smartphones is against the principle of consent. Similarly, athletes and staff in Tamil Nadu who do not have access to smartphones will be excluded from availing the facilities of sports centre. 

In an ongoing case in the Karnataka High Court, the Government of India has clarified that Aarogya Setu is mandatory for availing any government services. The Ministry of Home Affairs through its guidelines dated 17.05.2020 and other subsequent guidelines has also made installation of Aarogya Setu on "best-efforts" basis. 

Through these letters, SFLC.IN urges the Government of Goa, and Tamil Nadu to reconsider mandating installation of Aarogya Setu. 

Previously, we had also sent representations to Noida Metro Rail Corporation, Ministry of Railways, and Ministry of Civil Aviation against the requirement of mandatory installation of Aarogya Setu. We are also along with Senior Advocate Mr. Colin Gonsalves representing our advisory board member Mr. Anivar A Aravind in Karnataka High Court against mandatory-voluntary status of Aarogya Setu and lack of specific legislation governing it.

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All Posts | Jul 17,2020

Karnataka High Court Allows Amendment of Petition in Aarogya Setu Case

Karnataka High Court Allows Amendment of Petition in Aarogya Setu Case: Update on Petition Challenging Aarogya Setu's Voluntary-Mandatory Status and Lack of A Specific Legislation

SFLC.IN's advisory board member Mr. Anivar A Aravind filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court challenging the mandatory nature  of Aarogya Setu and invasion of privacy rights in the absence of a specific legislation governing data collected by it. SFLC.IN's team has been assisting Senior Advocate Mr. Colin Gonsalves, Advocate Siddharth Baburao and Advocate Ali Zia Kabir in the matter. 

The petition was listed for hearing today i.e. 17.07.2020 before the division bench of Hon'ble Chief Justice Abhay Okay and Justice M. Nagarprasanna. Before this, the Central Government had stated it on record that Aarogya Setu is not mandatory for air or rail services

In today's hearing, the arguments were made by Senior Advocate Mr. Colin regarding the admissibility of application to the amendments to the petition and impleadment of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation as respondent parties. Recently, the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation had made it mandatory for commuters to install Aarogya Setu and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had released a SoP making Aarogya Setu mandatory for employees in all offices.

The amendments to the petition included the recent updates in the Aarogya Setu App which allow sharing of user data with third parties, deletion of user's account within 30 days, and health status of persons with whom the user came in contact with. The amendment also raised the point that Aarogya Setu's Android Source Code is partially open source and iOS source code is yet to be released in public domain.

The Karnataka High Court has allowed amendments to the petition and has given time until August 14 to the respondents to file their responses and objections.

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All Posts | Jun 09,2020

A Brief on Privacy Concerns Around the COVID-19 Pandemic for the Committee

A Brief on Privacy Concerns Around the COVID-19 Pandemic for the Committee on Information Technology

In order to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of India launched a contact tracing application “Aarogya Setu”, and is also in the process of deploying various technologies like the patient tracking tool incorporated in the BECIL tender, etc, which have the potential to serve as surveillance tools. In the absence of privacy laws, it is important to have Parliamentary oversight on these technological developments. With the Parliament not in session currently, the Parliamentary oversight is only possible through these committee meetings.

SFLC.in prepared a brief on privacy concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic and suggested questions to the Committee on Information Technology meeting scheduled on June 17, 2020. One of the agendas for the meeting is "Oral Evidence on citizen’s security and privacy by the representatives of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.”

We sincerely hope that the Committee will take up the concerns arising from balancing of public health, technological innovation, and individual data protection rights.

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