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Karnataka HC declines to stay use of Aarogya Setu app

But restrains Centre and NIC from ‘sharing’ data with other authorities till further orders

The High Court of Karnataka on Monday declined to stay the Aarogya Setu app or use of data of the users already collected through the app while prima facie holding that there is “informed consent of the users” through the privacy policy” of the app.

However, the Court restrained the Central government and the National Informatics Centre (NOC) from sharing the data collected through the app with other government authorities and agencies as per the Aarogya Setu Data Access and Knowledge Sharing Protocol, 2020 till further orders.

The Court gave liberty to the Central government to move court for vacating of this interim order on sharing data based on knowledge sharing protocol by producing relevant document to demonstrate that the Chairperson of the Empowered Group on Technology and Data Management had the power in the law to issue the knowledge sharing protocol.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice S. Vishwajith Shetty passed the interim order on the PIL petition, filed by Anivar A. Aravind, a software engineer working for a non-profit organisation to protect people’s rights in the digital space.

As the Central government had made it clear that use of the app is not mandatory but voluntary, and person would be denied of any services person for not having downloaded the app, the Bench did not go into the allegation made by the petitioner that services were being denied to citizens for not using the app.

The petitioner, during the pendency of the petition, had sought a direction from the Court to restrain the Central government from proceeding with the app and with the data collected, in any manner, whether the collection of data from the members of the public is stated to be voluntary or involuntary.

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