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MHA Unlock guidelines: Govt recommends businesses with more than 50 employees to use Aarogya Setu OpenAPI Service

Aarogya Setu
Credit: Aditi Agrawal

The Indian government has recommended organisations and businesses with more than 50 employees to use the Aarogya Setu OpenAPI service. The Open API Services Portal, launched in August, allows third-party apps to integrate health check features to detect potential COVID-19 patients.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued the latest Unlock guidelines, which will be in effect from December 1 to December 31, 2020. The ministry had earlier issued guidelines on September 30, 2020, which was later extended until the end of November.

This is the first time the government has recommended the use of Aarogya Setu OpenAPI Service as part of the Unlock guidelines.

“Organizations and Business entities with 50 or more employees are encouraged to avail the Aarogya Setu OpenAPI Service (https://openapi.aarogyasetu.gov.in). Open API feature will facilitate Organizations and employees to return to work in a COVID 19 risk free environment.” — MHA guidelines (issued, November 25, 2020)

Other recommendations with regards to the use of the Aarogya Setu app remain the same as the September 30 guidelines. Also, all of them continue to be voluntary in nature. Employers have been asked to ensure installation of the app on a “best effort basis” on all compatible mobile phones. District authorities may “advise” individuals to install the app on phones to regularly update their status on the app, the MHA guidelines state.

What is Aarogya Setu OpenAPI Service? The API (application programming interface) can be integrated into apps by third-parties authorised by a necessary government agency. The portal, which was launched in August, allows registered entities with an operational presence in India to get permission to use the API. Per the terms and conditions, apps that use this API must be designed in a way that it cannot access and collect data from the Aarogya Setu app and servers without the explicit consent of the user. If a user refuses to give consent to share their health status through the open API, the app developer has to provide other means through which they can avail the services offered.

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