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This article was published on May 26, 2020

India open-sources its coronavirus tracker after privacy concerns

India open-sources its coronavirus tracker after privacy concerns
Ivan Mehta
Story by

Ivan Mehta

Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh." Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh."

Nearly two months after its launch and several privacy-related concerns, India has finally open-sourced its coronavirus tracking app, Aarogya Setu. The makers of the app today released the source code of the Android version; the source code of the iOS version will be released in the coming weeks.

The government also opened up a bug country program with rewards up to ₹100,000 ($1,325) for finding bugs in the app.

The app was originally launched in April on Android and iOS to keep a check on the spread of coronavirus. To ensure that its effective, the government made it mandatory for private and public sector employees. Several private companies such as food-delivery service Zomato and utility service provider Urban Company asked all of its employees to use the app.

Noida, a district in North India, said it will punish people with fines or jail terms people if they don’t install India’s coronavirus tracking app.

However, in the last set of guidelines issued earlier this month, the Home Ministry removed the mandatory clause and relaxed restriction on the app’s usage.

After the launch, privacy experts noted that the scope of data collection, usage, and deletion wasn’t clear enough in the app’s privacy policy. Earlier this month, French researchers Baptiste Robert said hackers could use GPS triangulation attacks to identify positive cases through the app. However, the government dismissed these concerns.

Several programmers also built their ownversions of the Aarogya Setu app instead of using the official version so that they can appear safe.

Earlier this week, authorities said more than 110 million people are using the Aarogya Setu app. You can check out Aarogya Setu’s code here.

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