THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Amid the row over the phone call detail records issue, the Kerala police on Friday clarified that it was not collecting CDRs of COVID-19 patients as part of contact tracing but details of tower locations to ensure that a quarantined person was not roaming around.
The Opposition Congress had yesterday slammed the ruling Left over its decision to allow police to use the CDRs of COVID-19 patients for effective contact tracing, saying it was an "infringement" on the privacy of citizens and the state cannot be allowed to be converted into a "Police State."
In a explanatory note, the state police department said it was utilising the possibilities of technology to trace the contacts of the COVID-19 patients in a legal manner.
"The collection of such data was not infringing the privacy of anyone. The centre has also issued guidelines in this regard. The contents of the calls made are not collected. The department is collecting details of the tower locations in order to contain the spread of the virus through contact," the department said in its release.
The Congress had alleged that the collection of phone details by police was an infringement on the privacy of an individual which is against the Supreme Court's latest judgement in the K S Puttaswamy case.
Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala had also claimed that as there were delays in sending the CDRs by telecom operators in some places, the Additional Director General of Police, Intelligence, had been entrusted to take up the matter with BSNL and Vodafone.
Police said the quarantine tracking was being done in Keralain full compliance with the orders and prescribed standards of the Government of India and using the application developed by the Startups.
"The telephone tower location details are used to create the route map of the infected person who may spread the disease. It also warns people to remain vigilant," police said.
The release also said the people were cooperating well with the COVID mitigation efforts of the state government and asked "those who spread misleading news to desist from their attempts" in creating confusion.
The government decided to use police help in containment measures as the COVID figures began rising in the state.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had on Wednesday said that CDRs were being used by the police as part of adopting innovative and scientific methods for effective contact tracing.
The details would not be used for any other purpose and there would be no intrusion into the privacy of the patients, he had said, adding this was the "most effective" way of contact tracing and the state had been using this method for a few months.
Justice D Y Chandrachud, while delivering the main judgement in August 2017 on behalf of Chief Justice J S Khehar, Justices R K Agarwal and S Abdul Naeer,held that privacy was intrinsic to life, liberty, freedom and dignity and therefore, is an inalienable natural right.
The Congress-led UDF had also attacked the government for entrusting major responsibilities of COVID containment such as identification of containment zones, monitoring of those in quarantine and contact tracing, from the health department to police, saying this would create "police raj."
With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government early this month decided to bring in stringent measures to contain the spread and had entrusted police with the task of contact tracing and enforcing quarantine protocols.
The Indian Medical Association had also flayed the decision, saying this was a job of health workers.