NITI Aayog has opened the code of the Aarogya Setu app week after privacy concerns by various experts. The new move comes 41 days after its launch in April, after the contact tracing app crossed 10 million registered users. NITI Aayog has released the source code of the Android version of Aarogya Setu, which is said to be used by 98 percent of its total users. However, the state-owned policy think tank has plans to open the code for its iOS and KaiOS versions at a later stage as well.
Source code of the Android version of Aarogya Setu Will happens Available from midnight May 26 on GitHub. The National Informatics Center (NIC) has announced a bug bounty program to encourage researchers to find flaws in the app.
- There has been a growing call for making the Aarogya Setu contact tracing application open-source
- Since most of the Aarogya Setu users are on Android, the open-source will become available on Github by 12 AM midnight
NITI CEO Amitabh Kant, while addressing a press conference related to the opening of the Arogya Setu app’s sourcing on Tuesday, said, “I just want to mention that this is a very unique thing.” “No other government product anywhere in the world has been exposed to this scale anywhere in the world.”
The Aarogya Setu app currently has 11.50 crore registered users on all supported platforms. During the conference, Kant highlighted that the app already helped more than 1,40,000 people by warning them of the potential risk of coronavirus infection using its internal contact tracing technology.
Security experts raised privacy concerns and urged the government to open the code of the Arogya Setu app soon after its launch last month. However, NITI Aayog has so far pushed forward the open-sourcing process with a view to maintaining the existing system regularly. NITI Aayog is also ready to release all subsequent updates of the app through its repository on GitHub.
Talking at the launch, the government of India officials claimed the effort of open-sourcing the Aarogya Setu code to be the “first of its kind” in the world, where an app’s source code was opened up after over 100 million downloads. The officials stated that Aarogya Setu has now been installed on 115 million devices, of which an overwhelming majority has come from Android devices. While the officials were quick to talk about the benefits of the Aarogya Setu app, it is important to note that India is not setting the precedent here – Singapore has already open-sourced its official Covid-19 contact tracing app, months ago.
Many cybersecurity and cyber law experts had already called out for open-sourcing the source code of the Aarogya Setu app, in order to accommodate developers to independently inspect all the privacy issues of the Aarogya Setu app. The government officials further stated that the move will set a major precedent – not just for all Indian government apps in the future, but also for other governments across the world to follow.