21/04/2020 2:38 PM IST

Coronavirus: Sprinklr Controversy Reaches Kerala HC, State Govt Asked To Respond By April 24

A judge asked the Kerala government whether there was any guarantee that the data with Sprinklr would remain confidential.

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Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan photographed in Delhi's Kerala House. 

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday emphasised on maintaining data confidentiality and asked the state government to respond to several questions regarding its deal with the US-based tech company Sprinklr by April 24.

The government is using a tool provided free of cost by Sprinklr to collate and analyse data obtained from people under quarantine during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The court heard a writ petition filed by Balu Gopalakrishnan, a lawyer, who alleged foul play in the deal and said that the provided to the state government did not have an option to signify that the donor was consenting to the process.

The state government told the court that the contract was necessary in the compelling circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, LiveLaw reported.

Justice Devan Ramachandran asked the government whether there was any guarantee that the data with Sprinklr would remain confidential.

Justice TR Ravi asked for an explanation on “why the contract was not referred to the law department.”

The court observed, “We do not want you to upload data unless you can tell us that data is confidential from R3 (Sprinklr) also. Cannot accept the submission that the data collected is not sensitive. If Kerala Govt thinks the information is not sensitive, something is amiss,” Bar&Bench quoted.

“We do not want the COVID-19 epidemic to be substituted by a data epidemic”, Justice Devan Ramachandran observed, according to Bar&Bench.

The Kerala government told the court that around 80 lakh people were still being screened. Data collected was stored in the cloud server account of the government’s Centre for Development of Imaging Technology on Amazon Web Services, which is a server approved by the Central government. The Kerala government submitted that analysis software for the data is provided by Sprinklr and that company is prohibited from using data for any other purpose.

Meanwhile, the Central government’s counsel told the court that it also wanted to request the Kerala government to keep the data “within the country.” 

The Congress-led Opposition in Kerala has been attacking the state government over alleged discrepancies in the deal.

On Monday, CM Pinarayi Vijayan had refused to respond to questions on the data collection row. during a press conference, saying he had other important things to attend to when the state was engaged in fighting the virus pandemic.