Making a major U-turn midst raging row over data, the Kerala government on Thursday told the High Court that it had dropped the deal with US-based PR and marketing company Sprinklr for handling data of coronavirus suspects.
Instead, it told the court that the government-run Centre for Development of Imaging Technology (C-DIT) would not undertake analysis of corona data in the State.
This has put to rest the row that diminished the national and global appreciation that the State Government’s had earned over handling of corona.
All data that initially was handled by Sprinklr had been `safely transferred’ to C-DIT's server. The US firm also has been directed to destroy all of the data in its possession, Government told the High Court in its affidavit. Sprinklr will only be engaged in software updation, though it would not have any access to data. It said the data was transferred to the Government-owned cloud web space in Amazon Web Service managed and controlled by C-DIT by April 20 itself.
The deal with Sprinklr, a company owned by an expatriate, was initiated after the first corona case was reported. A student from Wuhan reached Thrissur on January 1 and was found to have coronavirus. The company was to collect personal health data of people in the State on the basis of a number of questions that covered their health conditions and illnesses.
This kicked up a row as there were fears of health data of people getting leaked. While initially Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his team tried to vociferously justify the deal, the Opposition was unwilling to budge and alleged that there could be a major scam in the deal.
The charge was that Sprinklr was allowed to collate and handle health data of around 1.75 lakh people under quarantine without taking their consent. Besides, the government did not follow due procedures in appointing Sprinklr, which ensued a risk of transfer of crucial health data to pharmaceutical companies.
The matter was taken to the High Court by Congress leaders and despite adverse remarks, the court did not offer a stay. However, it sought details from the State Government and said it would pronounce the verdict shortly. Fearing worse remarks from the court and also stern action, the Government made a sudden volte face and said the matter would now be handled by C-DIT. This has given the Opposition an upper hand as it had then asked why C-DIT was not considered for handling the data.