A press release issued by Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar exempts those in quarantine from sending selfies during sleeping hours from 10 pm to 7 am.

Karnataka wants those in home quarantine to send a selfie every hour starting 7 am
Coronavirus Coronavirus Monday, March 30, 2020 - 20:19

If you have been rolling your eyes at the number of social media posts appearing on your timeline from friends and family, this big brother’s expectations are on another level altogether. The Karnataka government has asked all those who are quarantined at home over the COVID-19 outbreak to send a selfie every hour from their home, failing which they may be housed in mass quarantine centres. That’s 15 selfies per day for 14 days, amounting to a total of 210 selfies for the entire quarantine period!

A press release, which was signed by Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar, also mentions that this exercise will be repeated, except during sleeping hours from 10 pm to 7 am.

“If home quarantine person fails to send selfie every one hour (except sleeping time from 10 PM to 7 AM) then the government will reach such defaulters and they are liable to be shifted them to government created mass quarantine,” (sic) reads the directive.

It mentions that the selfie or photo will include location coordinates which informs the government where the sender is. 

Every selfie sent by a home-quarantined person is seen by the state government’s photo verification team. So if wrong photos are sent, then also defaulters will be shifted to mass quarantine, adds the directive. 

This is in addition to all the other measures taken already against the spread of COVID-19 in the state. People who have returned from a foreign country are stamped on their hands, notices are stuck outside their houses and their details have been uploaded on a list released by the government too.

The state government has set up a COVID-19 control room at the office of the Department of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) in Bengaluru. The control room consists of volunteers who fact-check news items and take notes from calls made to the helpline numbers in the state. 

In Karnataka, people who have returned from a foreign country and people who may have come in contact with a COVID-19 patient are quarantined at their homes. A bulletin issued by the Karnataka Health and Family Welfare Department on Monday evening stated that there are 23,152 people in the state who have been stamped with the quarantine details. 

Volunteer teams visiting the home of people in quarantine will also click their photos and send it to the government. The state government also shared the link to an android application— Quarantine Watch— to be downloaded and used by those in home quarantine in the state. 

“We have been given the list of addresses of people who are quarantined. We will be visiting their houses and checking with their neighbours if they have left their homes,” said a volunteer working with the Karnataka government. The volunteers are working with jurisdictional police stations and are helping police track down and keep tabs on people who are quarantined in their homes. 

However, the move has faced opposition, with technology policy experts questioning the need for collecting large amounts of data pertaining to people who are quarantined.  “Taking selfies and uploading them every hour is enabling the collection of more information than what is needed. One does know to what extent will this data remain or will be removed in the future,” Apar Gupta,  Executive Director, Internet Freedom Foundation told TNM. He further pointed out that the link to the app's privacy policy led the user to the website of the Revenue Department of Karnataka.

Last week, the same department released a list of around 20,000 addresses of people who are currently quarantined at their homes. The state government also released a mobile application which revealed the addresses of COVID-19 patients in the state. The list of addresses were divided by districts and it included over 14,000 addresses from Bengaluru alone. 

Read: Karnataka’s app for contact tracing reveals home addresses of COVID-19 patients

88 people in the state have tested positive for COVID-19, including 41 cases in Bengaluru and 12 in Mysuru. In Mysuru, ten people infected are employees of a pharmaceutical company— Jubilant— in Nanjangud and the state government is yet to trace the source of the infection.

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