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Sunday, May 24, 2020

Health data secrecy: HC seeks report from Kerala

Raising concerns over the confidentiality of data being transferred to Sprinklr, a software-as-service (SAAS) firm, the court observed, “We do not want the COVID epidemic to be substituted by a data epidemic.”

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | Published: April 22, 2020 6:17:50 am
coronavirus, coronavirus news, covid 19 tracker, coronavirus in india, Indians stranded abroad, Indian students in UK, COVID-19 lockdown, Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala fishermen in Iran, Indian express The state government counsel said the data was not as sensitive as was projected by the petitioner. However, the court observed that medical data is sensitive and privacy is a fundamental right of a citizen.

The row over the Kerala government’s deal with a US-based firm to share health status details of persons under home quarantine for their suspected exposure to COVID-19 has come under the scanner of the Kerala High Court.

Raising concerns over the confidentiality of data being transferred to Sprinklr, a software-as-service (SAAS) firm, the court observed, “We do not want the COVID epidemic to be substituted by a data epidemic.”

Acting on a petition by advocate K S Jaykar, the bench of Justices Devan Ramachandran and T R Ravi on Tuesday directed the government to report about the steps initiated to ensure secrecy of the health data fed to Sprinklr (which has Keralite Ragy Thomas as founder and CEO).

The court, which heard the case through Zoom conferencing, posted the matter to April 24.

Sprinklr has been entrusted the task of analysing data on persons under home quarantine since March 27.

The data is being collected by grassroot health workers during their field visit to the houses. Such field data would be uploaded into the server of Sprinklr, which would structure the data and deliver it for the state’s COVID-19 management.

Predictive models warned about a possible hike of COVID-19 cases in Kerala to 8-10 lakh within a short period and effective analysis of data was needed to handle huge volume of cases.

The state government counsel said the data was not as sensitive as was projected by the petitioner. However, the court observed that medical data is sensitive and privacy is a fundamental right of a citizen.

“We cannot accept submission that the data collected is not sensitive. If the Kerala government thinks that the information is not sensitive, something is wrong.’’

The controversy has been in the air for a week since the Congress-led Opposition alleged discrepancies in the deal process and raised concerns over data confidentiality.

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