Aarogya Setu: Major Surveillance, Few Safeguards In Modi Govt COVID Tracking App

Gayathri Vaidyanathan
·2-min read

Chennai, TAMIL NADU— Aarogya Setu, a Government of India app to track the real-time movements of citizens to determine if they have been in the proximity of COVID-19 patients, vastly expands the surveillance capabilities of the state with few explicit safeguards warned privacy experts and cybersecurity analysts.

An analysis of the app by Defensive Lab Agency, a Paris-based cybersecurity consultancy, offers disturbing insights: The app gathers a user’s identity, tracks their movement in realtime, and also continuously checks if other people who have downloaded the app are in the proximity of the user.

This allows Aarogya Setu to create a social graph of a user by tracking everyone they have been close to. Combining this data with existing government databases — many of which are already seeded with the mobile numbers of citizens — can significantly expand the government’s powers of surveillance, privacy experts said.

Worse, Aarogya Setu’s user agreement states that the data can be used in the future for purposes other than epidemic control if there is a legal requirement. The app’s privacy policy says the personal information harvested by Aargoya Setu will not be shared with “third parties”, but makes clear that this data may be shared with as many agencies as the government sees fit.


“Such personal information may also be shared with such other necessary and relevant persons as may be required in order to carry out necessary medical and administrative interventions,” the policy states.

Aarogya Setu has been downloaded over 10 million times since it was...

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