New Delhi: The Army has advised its personnel, their families and veterans to download the government’s healthcare mobile app Aarogya Setu to use during the Covid-19 pandemic, but cautioned that cyber security protocols be followed to ensure no breach in security.
The Aarogya Setu is designed to collect one’s location data and cross reference it with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)’s database of Covid-19 tests to warn a user if an infected person is in close proximity.
The ICMR has been the premier government body carrying out tests to identify individuals and areas with the Covid-19 disease.
The app has so far been dowloaded at least five crore times.
The Army’s advisory states that personnel can’t use the app while on office premises, operational areas and in other sensitive locations.
The Army has also advised switching on location services and bluetooth only while visiting public places, at Isolation Centres, when called for Covid-19-related assistance by civil authorities and while moving out of cantonments or military stations.
Army sources said personnel have also been told not to disclose their service identity, including rank, appointment and contact list of users, while using such apps. Further, they have advised updating their mobile operating system and installing an antivirus software.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged citizens to download the Aarogya Setu app while addressing the nation on 14 April, though some experts have raised concerns over data privacy.
The Army, in general, periodically recommends its officers holding critical posts to sparingly use smartphones and social media, particularly in operational areas and sensitive locations, to prevent any sort of intelligence gathering.
As reported by ThePrint, the Army had issued an advisory last October cautioning officers against the use of Facebook, and also advised against using WhatsApp for official communication.
However, the use of the Aarogya Setu is being seen as a preventive measure to check the spread of Covid-19, particularly in bases where thousands of personnel stay as a community with limited opportunity to practice social distancing, according to an Army source.
The Army has been actively involved in the government’s efforts to combat the disease by providing logistical support such as running quarantine camps and deploying medical personnel to civilian camps.