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Exclusive: MyGov CEO explains how Aarogya Setu handles your location data, says it will be useless once Covid-19 is contained

MyGov India CEO Abhishek Singh not only told HT Digital on where the user data gets shared and how, he also talked about what will happen to the app once the pandemic is contained.

While the popular French hacker Elliot Alderson did raise some concerns in his latest report about the app, HT Digital got in touch with the MyGov India CEO Abhishek Singh over a video call to clear the air.
While the popular French hacker Elliot Alderson did raise some concerns in his latest report about the app, HT Digital got in touch with the MyGov India CEO Abhishek Singh over a video call to clear the air. (Robin Sinha/Hindustan Times)

Although NITI Aayog's Aarogya Setu, the Covid-19 contact tracing app, has garnered 9 crore users in India within weeks of its launch, one of the biggest, and probably the most important, question that users have been asking is what happens to their data and how is it being handled by the Indian government. While the popular French hacker Elliot Alderson did raise some concerns in his latest report about the app, HT Digital's Aditi Prasad got in touch with the MyGov India CEO Abhishek Singh over a video call to clear the air.

Singh not only told HT Digital how the user data gets shared, but also talked about what will happen to the app once the pandemic is contained.

When asked if Aarogya Setu captures more data than required, Singh, citing the privacy policy of the app said that "The app only takes basic data. And as we've specified in the privacy policy of the app, all personal data is collected only once, and that is encrypted and then a device ID is created and subsequent to that all interactions happens only with the device ID."

ALSO WATCH | 'Arogya Setu will save lives, won't be needed after pandemic': MyGov.in CEO

Also read: NITI Aayog launches AarogyaSetu Mitr website for free Covid-19 consultancy, medicine deliveries and home lab test

Singh confirmed that the app stores all your data in the device itself. However, if you are Covid-19 positive, then only the data is sent to the government servers in an encrypted form. "Only in the case when you are diagnosed as Covid-19 positive, your location and Bluetooth data are pushed to the server in an encrypted form, only with the objective of alerting those with whom you are come in contact with in the last 14 days."

He adds that pushing the data of all those 9 crore users to the servers is not required.

As per Singh, users won't need Aarogya Setu once the Covid-19 pandemic is contained. "And if you look at the experience of other countries, whether it's China, whether it's the US, whether it's Spain, whether it's South Korea or Singapore, with the kind of strategies which are there, there is a finite time limit, in which this pandemic will be contained. And once that is done, there will be no need of such an app," he said to HT Digital.

Also read: Aarogya Setu reaches feature phones via toll-free IVRS facility: Here's how to use it

"Research is going on, we have heard about the research that our scientists are doing and collaborating with scientists world over in trying to develop a vaccine. So, there will be a time in the very near future, that this pandemic will be over, we'll flatten the curve, and then there should be no need of such an app," Singh added.

Lastly, the MyGov.in CEO, when talking about introducing Aarogya Setu in feature phones, confirmed that the government is already working on a version of the app that can run on Jio Phones. For this, they have to make a custom version of Aarogya Setu that can work on KaiOS. He however, did not give a time frame as to when this app will be reaching the Jio Phone users.  

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