Kerala’s deal with US IT firm for COVID-19-related data lands in HC

By: |
April 22, 2020 12:01 AM

Considering a plea seeking quashing of the state government's contract with the firm , the high court sought to know as to why foreign jurisdiction was included as a clause in the deal for adjudication of possible disputes.

The court directed the Kerala government to file a statement by April 24 on the details of the deal.The court directed the Kerala government to file a statement by April 24 on the details of the deal.

Kerala High Court on Tuesday raised concerns at the state government’s IT contract with a US firm for processing data related to COVID-19 patients. The court directed the Kerala government to file a statement by April 24 on the details of the deal.

Kerala had entered into a contract with a US-based IT firm Sprinklr, wherein the data of suspected and actual patients of COVID-19 will be collected using government machinery and uploaded to the foreign firm’s web server on a daily basis. The IT company, in turn, will provide actual data to the state machinery after analysis, for better understanding and treatment of the pandemic.The company is owned by a non-resident Indian from Kerala.

Considering a plea seeking quashing of the state government’s contract with the firm, the high court sought to know as to why foreign jurisdiction was included as a clause in the deal for adjudication of possible disputes. Expressing concern over the confidentiality of the citizen’s data processed by a third party, a division bench comprising Justices Devan Ramachandran and T R Ravi also sought to know why the sanction of the law department was not taken before finalising the agreement.

The court hailed the state government’s fight against the pandemic but said it was concerned about the data confidentiality. It also directed the government to explain the reason for engaging a foreign firm for such works when there are government IT wings to do such jobs. Noting that a citizen is not privy to the deal signed between the state government and the foreign company, the court observed that the state government will be held as responsible, if the firm misused the data.

The state government counsel said the agreement with Sprinklr has safeguards for data protection in accordance with the standard practices of software as a service model.

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