After hearing the various petitioners in the now controversial transfer of Covid-19 patient data by the Kerala government to US-based firm Sprinklr, the Kerala High Court on Friday, while refusing to stay the agreement, gave a number of directions to the Kerala government to see that all safeguards regarding data privacy are maintained and posted the case for hearing after three weeks.
The High Court's interim order was on a batch of petitions including that of opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala. The state's apex court had on April 21 heard the plea regarding the state government's contract with US-based tech firm Sprinklr that is aimed at analysing data based on details of people under surveillance in the state due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The High Court has asked the state government to collate all the data till now, anonymise it and allow access to Sprinkler only after that.
The US based firm, Sprinklr, has been directed against committing any act that will be a breach of confidentiality of the data provided to it and that it cannot use the data or government logo for any promotional acts. The high court also said that it is not possible to intervene in the contract as the state has to continue with the Covid-19 battle.
The court has also asked the state government to get informed, consent of people for their health data to be processed by a third party.
Commenting on the matter, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said it is not a set back to the government.
"The opposition sought to cancel the agreement or stay it .The court did not do that .The court ha granted permission for the government to go ahead with it's action.The government has already taken necessary steps to protect data privacy. Government gives top priority to data privacy," said CM Vijayan.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala welcomed the verdict and said that through an interim order, solution has been found to 99 percent of the issues raised by them in connection with this contract.
"From the beginning we have been saying that data protection is of utmost importance. Court has decided on this and said that informed consent is required for data collection. According to interim order of court Sprinklr cannot use kerala government's logo," said Chennithala.
Chennithala further added that the government does not have the moral right to go ahead with this contract.
The Congress-led opposition in the state has unleashed an attack on the ruling Left - specially Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan - over the government's contract which includes details of around 1.75 lakh people from the state. The High Court had also questioned the state on why sanctions were not sought from the Law Department before the contract was signed with the foreign firm, since it involves details of citizens.