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Multiple Petitions in Kerala HC Cite Privacy Issues To Oppose Mandatory Use of Arogya Setu App

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A petition has been filed in the Kerala High Court against the mandatory use of Arogya Setu App in Workplace as directed by the order of the Central Government dated May 1, 2020.

A similar petition had been filed in the Kerala High Court by Jackson Mathew, Managing Partner of Leetha Industries, seeking directions to constitute a High Powered Committee with independent members to examine the privacy practices and security features of the Aarogya Setu app where the Court had issued notice to the Central Government.

The present petition has been filed by a social activist named Shameer PS seeking declaration of the mandatory use of Arogya Setu App by employees of public and private organizations as unconstitutional and violative of Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution.

The petitioner has further sought a direction to check the violations of right to privacy and to fix the parameters within which the Government uses personal data for contact tracking.

The petitioner has submitted that the privacy policy of the Application is fully immersed in ambiguity and shrouded with vagueness. Moreover the petitioner has submitted that by directing the employees to use the application mandatorily and without letting them exercise their right to choice and consent under Article 21 and 19 (1) (a) , there is a violation of right to privacy of a person as reasonable restrictions on a persons right to life cannot take away right to consent as held  by the Supreme Court in KS Puttaswamy v. Union of India.

The petitioner has further pointed out that “the data so collected and its end use is unknown to the person from whom the data is so collected. The final analysis or synthesis of the data and its end use is without the informed consent of the person parting with such sensitive personal information.The person so parting with the data is also not given an opportunity to opt out of the same through an informed decision making process.”

The petitioner has also questioned the lack of legislative framework to safeguard the interest of its users which points out the larger question of consent being obtained forcefully in the present case. Moreover as per the Aadhaar Case judgement the government does not have any legal backing to issue a direction to use Aarogya Setu App compulsorily as it has been stated in the judgement that “without explicit backing of law right to privacy enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India cannot be restricted especially when right to consent is taken away.”

The petitioner has also pointed out that the Government order has vaguely used the term workplace which needs to be interpreted in terms of the Kerala High Court judgement in Essar Telecom Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd v State of Kerala where it was held that “Going by the concept of worker, either he must be employed in a manufacturing process or in cleaning any machinery or premises used for a manufacturing process or any work which is incidental or connected with the manufacturing process.”

-India Legal Bureau

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