Karnataka HC restrains centre, NIC from sharing Aarogya Setu app data without user consent

The Karnataka High Court on 24 January issued an order which restrains the central government and National Informatics Centre (NIC) from sharing Aarogya Setu app data without obtaining user consent. The bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Vishwajit S Shetty had reserved the order. It was found that Aarogya Setu users' data was being shared without their informed consent as provided in the Aarogya Setu Data Access and Knowledge Sharing Protocol, 2020.

Additionally, as per the High Court's order, the central government can not deny any benefit or services to a user only on the ground that the user has not installed Aarogya Setu.

Aarogya Setu app on iOS

Further, the Bench also noted that the informed consent is limited to collection of information as provided in the privacy policy. As of now, the NIC and Union of India are refrained from sharing data without informed consent.

The order comes after a petition was filed by SFLC.in's advisory board member Anivar A Arvind. He challenged the "voluntary-mandatory imposition of Aarogya Setu and invasion of privacy rights in the absence of specific legislation governing data collection and processing by it," according to a press release issued by SFLC.in.

“This is an important order ensuring user rights and consent as baseline for what one should run on their personal computing devices. I hope this will make an impact in a larger landscape where we are seeing a trend of more and more apps pushed for availing citizen rights in a post pandemic phase", Arvind said.

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