India Open-Sources its Coronavirus Contact Tracing app Aarogya Setu

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Aarogya Setu the Indian Contact-Tracing App for Coronavirus is Open-Sourced

Long before Google and Apple announced their own contact tracing Apps, the Indian government developed and deployed its own contact tracing App called Aarogya Setu. It was a necessity in a country like India where the lives of 1.5 billion Indians were at stake due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since Indians are well connected through smartphones (500 million users), the Aarogya Setu App was designed to provide the smartphone user, the location of the nearest CoronaVirus infected patient so the user and his family can avoid that location.

A few weeks earlier a French ethical hacker, Elliot Alderson tweeted about it leaking data which was subsequently trashed by the developers of the App. Now the privacy activists including Alderson want the Indian government to open-source the source code of the App. Especially after the United Kingdom’s NHS contact tracing App was open-sourced.

 

Well after a couple of weeks now India has decided that it will release the source code of its Coronavirus contact tracing App Aarogya Setu. According to the Aarogya Setu Tweet the source code of the app is been published on the Aarogya Setu GitHub repository.

Indian Government has also decided to launch a bug bounty program for the App where reporting vulnerabilities in the app can reward the security experts up to $1,325(Rs 1,00,000 approx).

The Indian Coronavirus contact tracing app was launched on 2nd April 2020 and now it has over 114 million users been tracked for Coronavirus. The Indian Government has also led strict instruction on downloading the Aarogya Setu app in Noida, where it even set up fines and severe punishment if people were found avoiding the installation of the app.

Since the app uses location as well as Bluetooth for contact tracing (a way to find if you were in proximity to COVID-19 positive people), experts have questioned how the government plans to keep user’s data safe.

Open-sourcing Aarogya Setu is a unique feat for India. No other government product anywhere in the world has been open-sourced at this scale

said Amitabh Kant, NITI Aayog’s chief executive, in a press conference.

The government has also said the source code for the Aarogya Setu iOS and KaiOS apps will be released in the next few weeks. However, it noted that over 98% of users are on its Android version.

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