Aarogya Sethu client app released as Free Software
FSF India, appreciates the Indian government's effort to publish the source code of the Aarogya Setu application as Free Software. It is the first step towards achieving "transparency, privacy, and security" as mentioned by CEO of NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant as the core values on which the application was designed. However, we stress that, this is only a first step and we hope that the government will follow up with some more actions that further strengthen the commitment made towards transparency, privacy and security.
Some of the specific technical steps that would strengthen the commitment towards transparency include:
Publishing the source code of server side code so that the solution is completely usable for any one interested in using it.
Ensuring systems for reproducibility of builds so that application may be verified and security is enhanced.
Lack of good legal frameworks for personal data protection and use of server side data implies that source code release will not help us address the questions raised around privacy and security of the data. Without such legal framework, there shall be no transparency either. While release of source code is definitely a positive first step, it is not sufficient in addressing concerns around an application like Aarogya Setu.
FSF India, hopes that release of Aarogya Setu application as free software will lead to more software being published under a free software license. We urge the national government and the state government agencies to follow this lead and publish software they develop under a Free Software license. As the leading national agency for software development we thank National Informatics Center and encourage them to release more software as Free Software.
We also urge the government to take necessary steps to build a strong personal data protection system in the country with our citizen's interest and privacy at the centre stage.