Bricks and mortar chemists take down Indian contact-tracing website

On grounds that it favoured online chemists in a nation that forbids online drug sales


The Indian government has suspend the sales of medicine through the companion website of its COVID-19 tracing app in response to a petition signed by 850,000 bricks-and-mortar chemists.

The Aarogya Setu Mitr portal, which is linked to the government's COVID-19 tracing app, Aarogya Setu, provides Indians sheltering at home with the ability to book tele-health consultations, order at-home test sample collection, or acquire goods from popular online pharmacies.

The app is a public-private partnership between the government’s Principal Scientific Advisor and the NITI Aayog, a state-run think tank, as well as "voluntary participation" from private organisations.

But the preference for online pharmacies earned the ire of bricks-and-mortar retailers, who last month petitioned the High Court of Delhi by the South Chemists and Distributions Association which called for the portal to be delinked from the Aarogya Setu app. The group argued that linking the contact-tracing app promoted online medicine sales in a "highly illegal, arbitrary, and discriminatory manner".

Indian law prohibits online medicine sales under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940. The provision has been temporarily lifted since late March to enable Indians sheltering at home to access essential medicines. Certain restrictions, such as the selling of highly addictive drugs, have been implemented.

The Association approached the court last month requesting that the name "Aarogya Setu" not be used in affiliation with the website and calling for its immediate closure. It argued that the website portal acted as a marketing tool for online pharmacies and did not mention brick and mortar pharmacies.

In response to the petition, the Additional Solicitor General Maninder Acharya agreed to suspend the service and "keep in mind the issues raised by the petitioners". The Aarogya Setu Mitr portal is currently down and displaying a 404 error and at the time of writing India's goverment has made no statement on its possible restoration. ®

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Monero-mining botnet targets Windows, Linux web servers
    Sysrv-K malware infects unpatched tin, Microsoft warns

    The latest variant of the Sysrv botnet malware is menacing Windows and Linux systems with an expanded list of vulnerabilities to exploit, according to Microsoft.

    The strain, which Microsoft's Security Intelligence team calls Sysrv-K, scans the internet for web servers that have security holes, such as path traversal, remote file disclosure, and arbitrary file download bugs, that can be exploited to infect the machines.

    The vulnerabilities, all of which have patches available, include flaws in WordPress plugins such as the recently uncovered remote code execution hole in the Spring Cloud Gateway software tracked as CVE-2022-22947 that Uncle Sam's CISA warned of this week.

    Continue reading
  • Red Hat Kubernetes security report finds people are the problem
    Puny human brains baffled by K8s complexity, leading to blunder fears

    Kubernetes, despite being widely regarded as an important technology by IT leaders, continues to pose problems for those deploying it. And the problem, apparently, is us.

    The open source container orchestration software, being used or evaluated by 96 per cent of organizations surveyed [PDF] last year by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, has a reputation for complexity.

    Witness the sarcasm: "Kubernetes is so easy to use that a company devoted solely to troubleshooting issues with it has raised $67 million," quipped Corey Quinn, chief cloud economist at IT consultancy The Duckbill Group, in a Twitter post on Monday referencing investment in a startup called Komodor. And the consequences of the software's complication can be seen in the difficulties reported by those using it.

    Continue reading
  • Infosys skips government meeting – and collecting government taxes
    Tax portal wobbles, again

    Services giant Infosys has had a difficult week, with one of its flagship projects wobbling and India's government continuing to pressure it over labor practices.

    The wobbly projext is India's portal for filing Goods and Services Tax returns. According to India's Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), the IT services giant reported a "technical glitch" that meant auto-populated forms weren't ready for taxpayers. The company was directed to fix it and CBIC was faced with extending due dates for tax payments.

    Continue reading
  • Google keeps legacy G Suite alive and free for personal use
    Phew!

    Google has quietly dropped its demand that users of its free G Suite legacy edition cough up to continue enjoying custom email domains and cloudy productivity tools.

    This story starts in 2006 with the launch of “Google Apps for Your Domain”, a bundle of services that included email, a calendar, Google Talk, and a website building tool. Beta users were offered the service at no cost, complete with the ability to use a custom domain if users let Google handle their MX record.

    The service evolved over the years and added more services, and in 2020 Google rebranded its online productivity offering as “Workspace”. Beta users got most of the updated offerings at no cost.

    Continue reading
  • GNU Compiler Collection adds support for China's LoongArch CPU family
    MIPS...ish is on the march in the Middle Kingdom

    Version 12.1 of the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) was released this month, and among its many changes is support for China's LoongArch processor architecture.

    The announcement of the release is here; the LoongArch port was accepted as recently as March.

    China's Academy of Sciences developed a family of MIPS-compatible microprocessors in the early 2000s. In 2010 the tech was spun out into a company callled Loongson Technology which today markets silicon under the brand "Godson". The company bills itself as working to develop technology that secures China and underpins its ability to innovate, a reflection of Beijing's believe that home-grown CPU architectures are critical to the nation's future.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022