August 6, 2020

App based delivery services companies forcing employees to install controversial Aarogya Setu app

Our nation has been under lockdown for so many weeks, and even after the lockdown was lifted, people were afraid to step out in public. Hence delivery agents have been superheroes for many of us. Many states across India designated them as essential works providing food, medicines, and other critical services to people all across our nation. Swiggy has gone to such extend to call them Hunger Saviours continuing to deliver food to those in need. But they have been treated apathetically, gig workers across the nation have demanded protection kits and sanitizers from their employers and have been denied though some claim that they have been giving out masks and reimbursing them with the cost of sanitizers at ground level it is unseen. They have been exploited because of their illiteracy; most of them don’t come from an educated background to understand privacy. Hence these app-based delivery companies have forced their workers to install the controversial Aarogya Setu app if they want to earn a living through their platform. Tis app requires constant GPS access Bluetooth data and has been deemed a breach of privacy enabling state surveillance. The Indian government has promoted the app but has not made is mandatory. You have to have the app installed and working if you want to avail of services like traveling by flights or trains, going to malls, or pharmacies. Noida has even said you don’t have the app you could face jail time. Ola, Zomato, and Swiggy had made it mandatory for their employees to have the app, whereas Uber has advised their employees to use the app but have not made it necessary. Swiggy said, “Apps like Aarogya Setu play a key role in keeping a check on the status of the zones affected by COVID within their vicinity. It also helps them to keep a daily check on their health status and guides them to proceed for work upon receiving a green status. Hence, we have made the use of the app mandatory for them.” Indian Federation of App-Based Transport Workers replied to their comment by saying, “Most gig workers in India who work for app-based tech platforms as delivery men in cities are semiliterate migrants from small towns around the country who do not understand the privacy concerns around contact tracing apps, The tech platforms that they work for are exploiting this by making it mandatory for them to install this app.” Many unions have come forward to improve the situation of gig workers and educate them regarding their rights. They have also been asked to work for longer hours to meet targets since the demand for services has decreased because of fear among people.