Indian government officially launches its coronavirus tracking app


Last week, we reported about India building a coronavirus tracker based on your mobile location. Now, the government has officially launched the app with the name of Aarogya Setu (which translates from Sanskrit to ‘A bridge of health’).

The core function of the app remains the same as the beta version: using your phone’s location data and Bluetooth to assess if you’ve been near a person who was infected by COVID-19, by looking through a database of known cases.

The app specifies that all your data is on the device in an encrypted form. Looking at the code, it sends your data to the server in an anonymized form to check if you’re near an infected person. To do that, the app will rely on Bluetooth to check if you’ve been within six feet of an infected person.

The app shares your data with the government in case you’ve been tested positive for coronavirus or have been in close contact with a person who was tested positive. For what it’s worth, the app’s privacy policy suggests your data won’t be shared with third-parties.

Aarogya Setu also has some nifty features such as a chatbot to help you determine if you may have coronavirus symptoms, rolling updates from the health ministry, and a list of helpline numbers for each state in India.

In the past few days, there have been a few data mishaps by state governments in the country. Karnataka published the addresses of hundreds of people under quarantine in an effort to help people stay away from them — a move that put those people at risk of ostracization and possibly worse at the hands of the frightened public. Plus, the personal data of roughly 20 people under isolation in the southern city of Hyderabad, Telangana, was leaked from a government agency’s database.

With this app, the government intends to limit community spread in conjunction with the ongoing 21-day lockdown.

The app is available currently on iOS and  Android and supports 11 languages. The app might not show up on the Play Store search just yet, but it’ll be listed soon. Now to see how the Indian government encourages people to use it.

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