BENGALURU: The Central Government on Friday told the Karnataka High Court that it is not mandatory for a person wishing to travel by Air or Rail to install the contact tracing app Aarogya Setu on mobile phone and that its use was voluntary.
Additional Solicitor General MN Nargund told the Court that a person can travel by air and railways without having downloaded the Aarogya Setu app. He added it is advisable to download it.
The statement was made during a hearing of a petition filed by cyber activist Anivar Aravind. The central government’s Aarogya Setu app, which has been downloaded more than 100 million times, helps the government trace the contacts of a Covid-19 positive patient.
“As stated by the Additional Solicitor General, even if a passenger wishes to travel by air and has not downloaded the Aarogya Setu application, he can travel by filing a self-declaration as provided. Therefore, it is not mandatory to download for a citizen to provide evidence of downloading the Aarogya Setu application as a condition for air travel,” the Karnataka HC recorded in its order.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing on July 10. It has directed the state and the central government to the larger issues raised by the petition. The court asked the government whether central and state governments can make the use of the Aarogya Setu app mandatory as a condition for accessing public offices and whether the government’s action of introducing the application supported by law.
Aarogya Setu has attracted a fair bit of controversy, criticism, and court cases for allegedly having weak privacy controls and collecting excessive personal information from users. It has been dubbed as a government surveillance tool my many privacy experts.