All Prasar Bharati employees must install Aarogya Setu, the Indian government’s contact tracing app, according to an office memo released by the public broadcaster on April 14. All employees, whether in office or in the field, have to mandatorily install the app. Security has been instructed to ensure that all people who enter or exit the Prasar Bharati premises have actually “activated” the app. Note that there is no way to activate/deactivate the app except for uninstalling it. The memo has been issued by Dinesh Mahur, the Additional Director General (Admin) of Prasar Bharati. This memo was released the same day Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to download the app in his address to the nation. The Quint had first reported this.
All employees have also been “requested” to create awareness about the app and “encourage” its greater adoption and activation. It is not clear what will happen if employees refuse to install or use the app, or how Prasar Bharati will ensure that reporters on the field have downloaded the app. We also don’t know if Prasar Bharati was instructed by any other authority to issue such a memo. We have reached out to Mahar for more details.
Thus far, the app has 50 million users, as per a tweet by Amitabh Kant, the CEO of NITI Aayog. NITI Aayog was also involved in developing the app along with National Informatics Centre (NIC) and 20 private volunteers from the tech industry. However, digital contact tracing in general, and this app in particular, are rife with privacy concerns. (Read about them here, here and here.)
Central Armed Police Forces’ personnel ordered to download and use app
Prasar Bharati is not the only one to instruct its employees to install the app. Two days after the app was launched on April 2, all Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) personnel were ordered to download and use Aarogya Setu. The number of downloads also have to be reported to the Ministry of Home Affairs on a daily basis, the Tribune had reported. CAPFs include over nine lakh personnel from Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP), Shashtra Seema Bal, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the National Security Guard.
Delhi schools also not spared
We had earlier reported that the Delhi Directorate of Education had instructed schools in Delhi to inform students, teacher and parents about the app, pursuant to notice issued by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, and then gone a step ahead and sought information from schools about how many teachers and parents had actually downloaded Aarogya Setu. As a result, at least two private schools in Delhi had sent emails and messages to parents asking for this information, though one of the messages was later rescinded.