While the government-promoted Aarogya Setu app has alarmed some activists and people alike over privacy issues in the absence of any legal framework, the app has become the fastest to amass 50 million-plus downloads and hitting the record-breaking figure in just two weeks.
On April 2, the Ministry of Electronics and IT launched the mobile app that helps people self-assess and track Covid-19 infections more accurately and effectively.
Since its launch, the prime minister and the government have been leaving no stone unturned to encourage more downloads and increase the usage of the app.
Besides leveraging social media platforms and the media to push the app, including a plea by the prime minister in his speech yesterday, the government has been encouraging central government employees including in the armed forces, Prasar Bharti and other government departments to install the app.
According to Google Play Store, Aarogya Setu has crossed 50 million downloads on the platform alone.
Sources aware of the matter said that the app had clocked 10 million downloads in the first week of launch and recorded 1.4 million downloads daily during the period. Currently, it has around 2.2 million daily active users (DAU). A TechCrunch report recently claimed that the app topped the list in terms of per day download, leaving global apps Zoom, TikTok and WhatsApp behind by a significant margin.
Such a scorching pace of downloads for an app is not a challenge when even school students are being mandatorily made to download the app. We are not sure how this will help since youngsters are more active on social media, entertainment and gaming apps.
Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog, too put out a tweet saying Aarogya Setu had reached 50 million downloads in just 13 days. Crediting the government, Kant went on to cite examples of apps such as Pokemon Go which took 19 days to reach 50 million installs.
Aarogya Setu has also extended its use case by promoting PM CARES Fund in the app. Moreover, it will soon launch e-pass facility within the app.
Of late, many privacy crusaders, activists and organisations have been expressing serious concerns over the kind of surveillance Aarogya Setu could lead to.
The government has however denied the charges as baseless that the app will be used for surveillance.
Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) emphasised in a report that the app doesn’t specify which departments or ministry or officials will be the ones accessing users’ data and to what extent.