In a sensational development, at least three government departments have said that they had no information as to who created the contact tracing mobile application, Aarogya Setu. The evasive response from three key government departments namely the Ministry of Electronics, National Informatics Centre and National e-Governance Division has prompted the Chief Information Commission to pull up the Indian government. The RTI body has also issued show-cause notices to these departments asking why they must not be penalised for prima facie obstruction of information and providing an evasive reply.
The CIC, in its show-cause notice, said that ‘none of the CPIOs were able to explain anything regarding who created the App, where are the files, and the same is extremely preposterous.’
According to the Livelaw website, CPIOs of the three government departments have been directed to appear before the CIC on 24 November. These CIOs are SK Tyagi, Deputy Director and DK Sagar, Deputy Director Electronics and RA Dhawan, Senior General Manager (HR & Admn).
Activist Sourav Das had approached the CIC alleging that the CPIO, NEGD and Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology did not provide any information on ArogyaSetu App and website. The CIC said after hearing that the denial of information by all the ‘concerned authorities cannot be accepted at all.’ “None of the CPIOs were able to explain anything regarding who created the App, where are the files, and the same is extremely preposterous”, the CIC said.
The Commission said, “Furthermore, as per the website https://aarogyasetu.gov.in it is mentioned that the content is owned, updated and maintained by the MyGov, @GoI_MeitY. Therefore, Shri Tyagi is directed to explain who is the concerned CPIO to explain regarding MyGov,
@GoI_MeitY maintaining the app.”
Furthermore, as per the website https://t.co/JjdPc4v2wR it is mentioned that the content is owned, updated and maintained by the MyGov, @GoI_MeitY . Therefore, Shri Tyagi is directed to explain who is the concerned CPIO to explain regarding MyGov, @GoI_MeitY maintaining the app.
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) October 28, 2020
The Commission did not stop here. It asked the CPIO NIC to also explain that ‘when in the website it is mentioned that Aarogya Setu platform is designed, developed and hosted by NIC, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India, then how is it that they do not have any information about the creation of the App.’
As expected, enraged Twitterati registered their outrage on social media.
#AarogyaSetuApp is an Act of God
— Srivatsa (@srivatsayb) October 28, 2020
Didn’t d honourable PM ask whole country to download this app. And his Ministry doesn’t have a clue who made it. 🤭🤭🤔🤔#AarogyaSetuApp #ऐकावंतेनवलच 🙏🏼 #आरोग्यसेतु #NIC #AarogyaSetu https://t.co/r04XTWYUXx
— Urmila Matondkar (@UrmilaMatondkar) October 28, 2020
— Kumar Manish (@kumarmanish9) October 28, 2020
Government doesn’t know
1. Who made #AarogyaSetuApp
2. Who stole #Rafalefiles
3. Data on Migrants
4. How to revive Economy
5. How to fight Corona
6. Land occupied by China
Govt only knows how to speak LIE.
— Polytikle (@Shayarcasm) October 28, 2020
The creation of the Aarogya Setu App and its mandatory download had created considerable outrage during the nationwide lockdown this summer. Many had accused the government of using the app to carry out surveillance on hapless citizens. Many users had complained that the mobile app, soon after its installation, accessed every single personal data of the user from his or her device without permission, thereby causing a grave risk to personal data.