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Aarogya Setu RTI Row : Ministry Issues Clarification; Says Names Of All Persons Associated With App Shared In Public Domain

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
28 Oct 2020 3:32 PM GMT
Aarogya Setu RTI Row : Ministry Issues Clarification; Says Names Of All Persons Associated With App Shared In Public Domain
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Following the controversy generated by the Central Information Commission pulling up the central government authorities for not sharing information about the 'Aarogya Setu App', the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MeitY) issued a clarification statement.LiveLaw had reported today morning the order passed by the CIC wherein it was observed: "None of the CPIOs(Central...

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Following the controversy generated by the Central Information Commission pulling up the central government authorities for not sharing information about the 'Aarogya Setu App', the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MeitY) issued a clarification statement.

LiveLaw had reported today morning the order passed by the CIC wherein it was observed: "None of the CPIOs(Central Public Information Officers) were able to explain anything regarding who created the App, where are the files, and the same is extremely preposterous".

The Central Information Commission had issued show-cause notices to the CPIOs of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, National Informatics Centre, NeGD as to why penalty u/s 20 of the RTI Act should not be imposed on them for prima facie obstruction of information and providing an evasive reply on an RTI application related to Arogya Setu App.

"The Commission directs the CPIO, NIC to explain this matter in writing as to how the website https://aarogyasetu.gov.in/ was created with the domain name gov.in, if they do not have any information about it," Information Commissioner Vanaja N. Sarna ordered.

After the report became a hot topic of discussion, the Ministry issued a statement on Wednesday evening stating that the app was developed via public-private partnership in "record time" of 21 days to tackle COVID-19 and that the names of all persons associated with its development and management are available in the public domain.

The full statement may be read below:

"Attention has been drawn to media reports regarding orders passed by Central Information Commission regarding an RTI query with regard to AarogyaSetu App. As per the orders, of the CIC, CPIOs of MeitY, NeGD and NIC have been directed to appear on 24th November 2020. MeitY is taking necessary steps to comply with the orders of the CIC.

With regard to the above, it is clarified that there should be no doubt with regard to the AarogyaSetu App and its role in helping contain COVID19 Pandemic in India. As was announced through Press Releases and Social Media posts on 2nd April 2020, AarogyaSetu App was launched by Government of India in public private partnership mode to bring people of India together in its fight against COVID19. The AarogyaSetu App was developed in a record time of around 21 days, to respond to the exigencies of the Pandemic with Lockdown restrictions only for the objective of building a Made in India Contact Tracing App with the best of Indian minds from Industry, Academia and Government, working round the clock to build a robust, scalable and secure App. Since 2nd April 2020, regular press releases and updates have been issued on AarogyaSetu App including making the source code available in Open domain on 26th May 2020. The names of all those associated with the development of the App and management of the App ecosystem at various stages was shared when the code was released in Open/Public Domain and the same was shared widely in media also.

The same can be accessed on https://github.com/nic-delhi/AarogyaSetu_Android/blob/master/Contributors.md. On all such occasions, it has been clearly mentioned that the AarogyaSetu App has been developed by NIC in collaboration with volunteers from Industry and Academia. AarogyaSetu app has been developed in the most transparent manner and all details and documents including Privacy Policy and AarogyaSetu Data Access & Knowledge Sharing Protocols issued on 11th May 2020 has been uploaded on the AarogyaSetu Portal – aarogyasetu.gov.in. The portal has all details about the App including those regarding How the App works, COVID updates and Why one should use AarogyaSetu. Regular updates about AarogyaSetu App have been shared on all Social media platforms as also Government portals. Several TV shows and media briefings also have shared complete details about the App, its development and how it is assisting the fight against COVID19.

As has been mentioned earlier, the App has been developed in a collaborative effort of Government and Private Sector. The App has been downloaded by more than 16.23 Cr users and has greatly augmented the efforts of front line health workers in the fight against COVID19. It has helped identify Bluetooth contacts of COVID positive users and issued alerts for helping people to stay safe. These Bluetooth contacts have been advised for caution, quarantine or testing depending on the extent of exposure to COVID19 positive user. Amongst those who have been advised testing, almost 25% have tested positive. This is much higher compared to the overall positivity rate of 7-8%. Thus, the efficiency of testing has gone up with AarogyaSetu. In addition, AarogyaSetu ITIHAS interface with location data has helped identify emerging hotspots where proactive steps have been taken by Health authorities and administration in order to contain the spread of the Virus. Thus, AarogyaSetu has proved to be very useful in India's fight against COVID19. Recently, WHO has also appreciated the role of AarogyaSetu in containing the pandemic in India".

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