Feb 24, 2022

Does the Aarogya Setu app violate the Fundamental Right to Privacy?

The Karnataka High Court has said that sharing a citizen’s health data without their consent violates the right to privacy guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950. The Court has now temporarily restrained the Government and the National Informatics Centre from sharing response data from the Aarogya Setu app, unless they take the informed consent of users.


Why is privacy considered a fundamental right? 

In the Puttaswamy case, the Supreme Court held that privacy is a constitutionally protected right which comes from the guarantee of life and personal liberty in Article 21.


Privacy is an essential facet of a human being’s dignity, and includes preserving personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, the home and sexual orientation. The right to privacy is a right to be left alone, and recognises every person’s ability to control vital aspects of their life. Personal choices governing a way of life are a part of the right to privacy.


Does the right to privacy include protecting personal information?

Yes, the right to privacy includes informational privacy, which recognizes that a person can authorise and control the sharing of their personal information, such as age, gender, etc. 


The growth and development of technology has created new ways for the possible invasion of privacy by the government, including through surveillance, profiling and data collection and processing. A person has the right to control their personal details while submitting personal data for various facilities and services and it is essential that they know what the data is being used for with the ability to correct and amend it. 


What about Aarogya Setu’s privacy policy?

The High Court held that the app’s privacy policy takes the informed consent of users with regard to the collection of information, use of information and retention. However, the permissions granted under the policy do not extend to sharing of response data. 


What if you don’t want to use Aarogya Setu due to privacy concerns?

The Government has assured the High Court that nobody will be denied the benefits of any government services based on the fact that they have not downloaded and installed the Aarogya Setu app.