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Can you guarantee secrecy of medical data? HC to govt

Expressing concern over the confidentiality of citizens’ data processed by US-based firm Sprinklr, the High Court on Tuesday observed that a person’s medical information was sensitive data. 

Published: 22nd April 2020 06:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd April 2020 06:36 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

KOCHI: Expressing concern over the confidentiality of citizens’ data processed by US-based firm Sprinklr, the High Court on Tuesday observed that a person’s medical information was sensitive data. 
“How do you guarantee that the data collected remains confidential in the hands of a third party, a private company,” the court asked the government. 

A division bench comprising Justice Devan Ramachandran and Justice T R Ravi made the observation while hearing a petition filed by Balu Gopalakrishnan of Thiruvananthapuram alleging fraud in the contract signed between the state government and Sprinklr for uploading data of people under Covid-19 surveillance on the firm’s website.

At the hearing, the court asked the government, “Are you still uploading information?” When the government replied in the positive, the court orally asked, “We (the Bench) do not want the government to upload data unless it tells us the data will be confidential.”On the government’s submission that the information of Covid patients uploaded in the server of the company was not sensitive, the court said it could not accept the “dangerous” submission.

“The medical data of an individual is covered by the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Puttuswamy’s case. How do you guarantee it remains confidential in the hands of the private company? Cloud computing is necessary when you are dealing with a large volume of data. The numbers in Kerala are far lower than what you expected or what we thought. If the state government thinks the information is not sensitive, something is amiss,” the bench observed.

Additional Advocate General K K Ravindranath submitted that the data stored in Amazon cloud is owned by C-DIT. He said the collected data needs to be analysed which requires proper software. “This software is provided by Sprinklr as Software as a Service (SaaS). Data is uploaded on the cloud, which is Amazon web service and approved by the Centre,” Ravindranath said.

Two-member panel formed

The state government has set up a two-member expert committee to look into the Sprinklr deal. The panel will be headed by M Madhavan Nambiar, former civil aviation and IT secretary, and will have ex-additional health secretary Rajeev Sadanandan as member.
The High Court asks the government to explain the jurisdiction clause in the IT contract with Sprinklr
The CPM state secretariat, which met in the state capital on Tuesday, offers support to the state government and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan
BJP terms CPM’s defence of the CM as ridiculous
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala seeks CBI probe into the Sprinklr data row

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