"Excuse For Surveillance State...": Shashi Tharoor On Aarogya Setu

The centre last week issued fresh guidelines for the third leg of the coronavirus lockdown, and said people attending their offices will have to download the application. I

'Excuse For Surveillance State...': Shashi Tharoor On Aarogya Setu

Coronavirus: The centre had made Aarogya Setu app mandatory for those going to their offices (File)

New Delhi:

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Monday expressed concerns over the central government's decision to make the Aarogya Setu mobile application mandatory for public and private employees. He said the coronavirus pandemic must not become an excuse for creating what he called a "surveillance state".

"The government's requirement that the Aarogya Setu app is now mandatory for all employees, public or private, raises serious privacy and data protection questions. COVID-19 must not become an excuse for creation of a "surveillance state" in India," he tweeted.

The application, launched to check the spread of the coronavirus, tracks the location. It informs of the presence of those who have come in contact with coronavirus suspects.

The centre last week issued fresh guidelines for the third leg of the coronavirus lockdown, and said people attending their offices will have to download the application. It is not mandatory for those working from home.

Everyone in a COVID-19 containment zone will also have to download the app.

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Saturday criticised the government over the app.

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

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, responding to Mr Gandhi's criticism, said the app is a "powerful companion which protects people".

"Daily a new lie. Aarogya Setu is a powerful companion which protects people. It has a robust data security architecture. Those who indulged in surveillance all their lives, won't know how tech can be leveraged for good!" Mr Prasad tweeted.

India on Monday reported 83 deaths. Total number of cases rose by 2,573 to reach 42,863.

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