India just extended its Coronavirus lockdown period for the fourth time starting today May 18. The government issued nation-wide guidelines for the lockdowns yesterday. In it, it cited the importance of using the Aarogya Setu app, a nation-wide Coronavirus infection tracker. As per the fresh guidelines, however, the app was not mandatory to download and use anymore.

“With a view to ensuring safety in offices and workplaces, employers on best effort basis should ensure that Aarogya Setu is installed by all employees having compatible mobile phones,” it said. On May 1st, the government had, however, said that the use of the app “shall be mandatory for all employees, both private and public. It shall be the responsibility of the head of the respective organization to ensure 100 percent coverage of the app among the employees”.

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The last guidelines had also said that the local authorities “shall ensure 100 percent coverage of Aarogya Setu app among the residents of containment zones”. This pointer wasn’t repeated in yesterday’s session.

Sunday’s guidelines also suggested that district authorities “may advise” various individuals to install the Aarogya Setu application on compatible mobile phones. Further regularly updating the health status on the app’s interface could also help facilitate timely provisions of medical attention to those at risk.

Aarogya Setu app: How safe is it?

Earlier this month, a French hacker and cybersecurity expert who goes by the name Elliot Alderson reportedly found a security flaw in the Aarogya Setu application and claimed that the privacy of 90 million Indians is at risk. The Indian government rejected the claims, saying that no data or security breach has been identified in the app. It also added that “no personal information of any user has been proven to be at risk by this ethical hacker”.

“We are continuously testing and upgrading our systems. Team Aarogya Setu assures everyone that no data or security breach has been identified,” said the government via the application’s official Twitter handle.

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