Aarogya Setu App: A Tale of the Complex Challenges of a Rights-Based Regime

At a time when the whole world is grappling with ways to contain the novel coronavirus, the Indian government is pushing its population to download the Aarogya Setu application to strengthen contact tracing and contain the epidemic. Contact tracing applications aim to track COVID-19 cases among citizens and surveillance is one of the key methods being utilised to track new cases and monitor the movement of people to record who they come in contact with.

The latest guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs makes it mandatory for the local authority to ensure 100% coverage of Aarogya Setu app among residents of the containment zones. The guidelines also make it compulsory for all the employees working in the government as well as the private sector to download the application. In a recent move, not downloading the Aarogya Setu app has been a punishable offence in Noida and Greater Noida which can land you with a fine or time in prison.
While the app may help us fight Covid-19, it also has the very real potential to produce anti-democratic, exclusionary, discriminatory practices and structures at a larger scale.

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