Rolling updates on automated decision-making systems deployed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in India. News items are displayed in reverse chronological order.
How many contacts Aarogya Setu app has traced in fighting Covid-19? RTI story (India Today, Sep 2021)
"Aarogya Setu app traced 8,436,524 suspected contacts in 322 days. Minimum number of cases was traced on September 11 this year, when the number stood at 1041. Maximum number of tracings happened on November 9, 2020, when 1,83,229 contacts were traced. On an average, the Aarogya Setu app traced 26,200 cases on a daily basis"
Kerala govt ignores protest, stays firm on 'immunity passport' to visit shops (The New Indian Express, Aug 2021)
"Kerala government's containment policy mandating that public carry vaccination certificates or negative RT-PCR test results to visit shops has been termed anti-people and discriminatory by a cross-section of people, including health experts"
India’s reliance on a vaccine app is hindering its push for herd immunity (Fortune, Jul 2021)
Facial recognition used to verify vaccine beneficiaries: govt (The Hindu, Jul 2021)
"Even though the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has admitted in a recent RTI query response to the use of facial recognition technology (FRT) for online verification of beneficiaries at vaccination centres, it failed to provide any legislative or legal order that authorised the use of such technology. The MoHFW has also said that no privacy impact assessment of the use of FRT was conducted prior to its deployment."
DCGI approves launch of IIT-B scientist's algorithm-based COVID-19 testing tool (BusinessToday.In, Jul 2021)
"Bengaluru-based tech startup Algorithmic Biologics has received regulatory approvals to launch its Covid-19 testing method that can help scale up testing for the deadly virus infection at half the prevailing cost and one-tenth of the time. (...) The tool works like a compression algorithm for molecular testing and uses samples from different individuals, which are mixed into pools using a code. Each sample is sent to three pools, ensuring testing in triplicate and accurate results. Individual-level results are recovered by looking at the pattern of the pooling results and applying a decoding algorithm"
COVID Severity Score: New software to identify COVID-19 patients requiring ventilator (DNA India, Jun 2021)
"The software works on an algorithm that measures symptoms, signs, vital parameters, test reports and comorbidities of the COVID positive patient and scores each against a pre-set dynamic algorithm thus allocating a COVID Severity Score (CSS). While the software will identify patients who require serious intervention in advance, it will also identify those unlikely to require critical care support, and thus freeing more beds, the ministry said. Currently, the software is being used by three community COVID care centres at Kolkata and suburbs including a 100-bed government-mandated COVID care centre at Bengal's Barrackpore"
Co-WIN To Block Users Who Search For COVID Vaccine Slots 1,000 Times In A Day: 50 OTP Requests Allowed (News 18, Jun 2021)
"Government of India’s COVID-19 vaccine registration website CO-WIN will start blocking users who are carrying out more than 1,000 searches for vaccine slots and those who are generating more than 50 OTPs within 24 hours time. An official told Times of India in a report that those who will be blocked for breaching this limit will only be blocked for 24 hours. The system will also log out users who make more than 20 search requests within a 15-minute session on Co-WIN. These measures come as the part of the effort to stop people from deploying bots or scripts on the Co-WIN website to automate slot booking"
Digital divide becomes starker as tech savvy Malayalis turn to apps to grab Covid vaccine slots (The New Indian Express, Jun 2021)
"Getting a vaccine slot via the CoWIN web portal is one of the biggest challenges people are facing these days. The tech savvy ones, however, have found an easy way to book free slots using parallel web apps, which are being developed and circulated within different groups. Though many websites and apps offer real-time alerts on availability of slots at different centres, this specific type of app automatically books a slot whenever vacancies are updated in the CoWIN portal"
Aarogya Setu Will Now Show Blue Ticks, Blue Shield for Vaccinated Individuals (Gadgets360, May 2021)
"The app was initially introduced as a way to track infected people or whether or not a user is in a high-risk area where COVID-19 cases are prevalent. The app can also be used for getting appointments for vaccination, in conjunction with the CoWIN platform"
Impressed with Bihar's HIT Covid App, PM seeks details for countrywide use (Deccan Herald, May 2021)
"Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had launched the "HIT Covid App" on Monday to reach out to coronavirus patients undergoing treatment for the deadly disease in home isolation. As part of the project, health workers at the grassroot level visit patients in home isolation to record their temperature and oxygen level on a daily basis and the data is fed to the App. Based on the information, necessary action is taken by the health department for the ailing persons"
Aadhaar not mandatory for Covid-19 treatment and vaccine: Centre (The Hindustan Times, May 2021)
""Aadhaar should not be misused as an excuse for denial of any essential service (...). If a resident does not possess Aadhaar for some or the other reason, she/he must not be denied essential services as per the Aadhaar Act," the authority said in a statement"
High-tech hunt for scarce COVID-19 vaccines in India raises fear for fairness (Reuters, May 2021)
"Indian tech experts have written software code and designed websites to help people book scarce COVID-19 vaccinations online, raising concern about an unfair advantage for the tech savvy and jeopardising chances of an equitable vaccine rollout"
SMS malware acts like Covid-19 vaccine registration app, targets users in India and spreads via text messages (India Today, May 2021)
"Like other malicious software, the new malware tricks users into tapping on a link and downloading the Covid-19 vaccination registration app that's reportedly fake. Dubbed SMS Worm, the new malware spreads via text messages and steals the contacts list from the victim's device"
What is Delhi Corona app, how to check oxygen availability status (India Tv News, May 2021)
"(...) the Delhi government has made the Oxygen availability status available on the Delhi Corona app. Delhi Corona app was launched back in 2020 to provide users with information on beds and ventilators at hospitals in the city. Now, the app has started showing the oxygen availability status of these facilities"
Vaccine exclusion fears over digital ID, face recognition (Al Jazeera, Apr 2021)
"Millions of vulnerable people are at risk of missing out on COVID-19 vaccines as India uses its national digital identity for registration and pilots facial recognition technology at inoculation centres, rights groups and experts said"
Digital Rights Bodies Warn Against Use of Facial Recognition Technology in Vaccination Drive (The Wire, Apr 2021)
"Ten human rights and digital rights organisations and over 150 individuals have signed a statement by the Internet Freedom Foundation that has alerted against the use of facial recognition technology in the Centre’s process of vaccinating India’s population"
Aadhaar face recognition could be made mandatory for COVID vaccination, pilot testing is on (India Today, Apr 2021)
"The government is working on an Aadhaar-based touchless facial recognition system for COVID 19 vaccine beneficiaries. It has started testing the facial recognition technology to replace the current biometric system that requires citizens to submit their fingerprints and iris scans at Covid vaccination sites. National Health Authority CEO RS Sharma in an interview noted that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has deployed the “best facial recognition algorithms” that it will start utilising in the future"
Facial recognition to stop +ves from stepping out in Nagpur (The Times of India, Mar 2021)
"To prevent Covid-19 positive patients from stepping out of home isolation, the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) will launch an innovative system of using facial recognition via the 3800 CCTVs installed in different parts of the city. This is probably the first of its kind attempt in the country to arrest Covid spread"
India is betting on glitchy software to inoculate 300 million people by August (MIT Technology Review, Feb 2021)
"Experts worry not only that the drive will fall short of its targets, but that it will be used as a way to gather citizens’ private health data"
Latest update: Sep 28, 2021