History of Aarogya Setu
The app’s motive is to monitor the live location and trace the travel history of the user. It also has the health record of the user. As per the Government, Aarogya Setu uses the live location and Bluetooth-based proximity to keep track of an individual. More than 100 million people have downloaded the app so far and 98 % of users use it on Android devices.
In a press release, the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MEITY) said that this app tracked around 9 lakh people related to Covid-19 positive cases and helped find 24% Covid-19 positive cases.
The government responded to the concerns and have made the Aarogya Setu an open-source software. As of now, only the Android version of the app has been made open source. It is expected that next week the government will make iOS version of the app open source.
Open source means that anyone can open, analyze, change, and use the original code of the software without acquiring the license to do so to develop a separate derivative software. One just has to acknowledge the owner of the app or the original code. VLC media player, WordPress, Mozilla Firefox, etc are some of the open-source software.
The government has said that this is taken in order to promote transparency of the app. The government has also launched a bounty of ₹1 lakh for anyone who can find loopholes and vulnerabilities in the app.
By making the app open source, any software developer will be able to go through the code. The move is expected to help find vulnerabilities and loopholes in the app. One can address the problems by writing fresh codes or suggesting these to the government. Cyber experts have also demanded the government to release the server-side code of the app to address the issue effectively. Moreover, it is too early to say whether this move will address security and privacy concerns.
However, open sourcing the code can also be misused by miscreants in multiple ways. It can make any vulnerability easily transparent to the public at large. Also, others can make copycat apps that redirect user data to their servers.
Other Open Source Covid Tracking Apps
- Czech Republic government’s Covid-19 tracking App eRouška (eFacemask)
- Singapore’s TraceTogether Covid App
- Austria’s Stopp Corona App
- UK’s NHS COVID-19
- Australia’s COVIDSafe App