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Rahul Gandhi Says Aarogya Setu App a 'Sophisticated Surveillance System', Raises Privacy Concern

File photo of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. (PTI)

File photo of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. (PTI)

The application helps users identify whether they are at risk of the COVID-19 infection. It also provides people with important information, including ways to avoid coronavirus and its symptoms.

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said the Aarogya Setu mobile application is a "sophisticated surveillance system" outsourced to a private operator, raising serious data security and privacy concerns.

Technology can help keep us safe, but fear must not be used to track citizens without their consent, he said.

The application helps users identify whether they are at risk of the COVID-19 infection. It also provides people with important information, including ways to avoid coronavirus and its symptoms.

"The Aarogya Setu app is a sophisticated surveillance system, outsourced to a private operator, with no institutional oversight -- raising serious data security and privacy concerns. Technology can help keep us safe; but fear must not be leveraged to track citizens without their consent," he said on Twitter.

The central government has made it compulsory for all its employees to download the app and urged private entitles to also ask their employees to use it.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said various experts have raised multiple issues of privacy regarding the app.

"We are looking at the privacy issues, as also the compulsory deduction of amount and hopefully within next 24 hours we will come with a more comprehensive and a calibrated response on the issue. But, these are areas of concern, we have noted," he said.

BJP counters allegations

Hours after Gandhi's tweet, the BJP said the Congress leader speaks a "new lie" daily, adding those who indulged in surveillance all their lives won't know how technology can be leveraged for good.

Senior party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is also communications, electronics and information technology minister, rejected Gandhi's charge that the app has been outsourced to a private operator and asserted that it has a robust data security architecture.

"Mr Gandhi, really high time that you stop outsourcing your tweets to your cronies who do not understand India," he tweeted, adding that the app, which the government says is a tool in fighting the coronavirus, is being appreciated globally.

first published:May 02, 2020, 20:15 IST