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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Kerala HC issues directions for confidentiality in health data

Weeks ago, the Kerala government accepted the offer from Sprinklr, a Software as Service (SAS) firm, to analyse COVID-19 data in the state for better management of the situation.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: April 25, 2020 3:46:52 am
Kerala news, Kerala High Court, US company Kerala covid-19 data, Covid-19 data Kerala, Kerala coronavirus, coronavirus Kerala, The Court also restrained the firm from using the name or logo of the state government for its promotional purposes.

The Kerala High Court on Friday issued a set of directions to ensure confidentiality of COVID-19 data which the state government is transferring to US-based firm Sprinklr for analysis.

Weeks ago, the Kerala government accepted the offer from Sprinklr, a Software as Service (SAS) firm, to analyse COVID-19 data in the state for better management of the situation. This had drawn criticism from within the ruling LDF as well as the Opposition Congress, as the issue was not discussed in the Cabinet nor vetted by the Law Department.

In its interim order, the bench of Justice Devan Ramachandran and T R Ravi said the state government should anonymise the data before it is shared with Sprinklr. Also, the government should inform individuals that their data would be accessed by Sprinklr, the bench said, adding that consent of individuals should be obtained before collecting their data for analysis. The court, which acted upon a litigation moved by advocate K S Jaykar, would consider the matter three weeks later. While issuing the order, the court said the directions were given with the intent of “ensuring that there is no data epidemic after the COVID-19 epidemic is controlled’’.

The court also directed that any residual or secondary data with Sprinklr should be removed immediately. The company was further prevented from advertising that they are in possession of data related to persons under observation for suspected exposure to COVID-19. The US company cannot directly or indirectly exploit the data for their commercial purpose, the court said. Sprinklr was also prevented from using the state government emblem for promotional activities.

The Union government told the court that it was ready to provide data analysis support through the National Informatics Centre.

Last month, the Kerala government decided to hand over the health data of around 2 lakh persons to the US-based firm. The ASHA workers had been asked to collect the data using a mobile app and the information would be fed into the server of Sprinklr, which has Keralite Ragy Thomas as its CEO and founder. The company was expected to structure the data from the field and provide it to the state government for the management of COVID-19. The pact was inked by the IT Department under Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Ramesh Chennithala said the court has found that all issues raised by the Opposition are serious and added that the government should cancel the deal with Sprinklr.

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