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    Kerala govt appoints committee to probe ''data transfer''

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    Thiruvananthapuram: After being caught napping by the Congress-led opposition over the handling of coronavirus suspects'' data by Sprinklr - a US based PR and marketing company - the Kerala government has decided to appoint a two-member committee of former top bureaucrats to submit a report on it.

    Even though, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan came under the hammer of the opposition, which even dragged his daughter''s name into the data scam , he did not mention about it either on Monday or Tuesday when he addressed the media for close to an hour.

    The order dated April 20 which was send out to the media on Tuesday night states that the state government accords foremost priority to prevent the community spread of the COVID-19 virus.

    "Predictive models using statistical techniques warned of a possible worst case scenario in which the number of COVID-19 infections in the state could go up to 8-10 lakh in a short period of time. In these circumstances, the Department of Information Technology initiated steps to set up a data analytics platform to integrate data available to the government, agencies and from the field so as to meet the exigency and unprecedented surge of the epidemic."

    "The above arrangements made Department of Information Technology include utilization of services of Sprinklr for the purpose of big data analysis. Subsequently, certain issues have been raised in the public domain on arrangements made with the above US-based company was in accordance with procedure and done after taking necessary safeguards to protect the privacy of citizens."

    Hence the government, has appointed a two-member committee of M. Madhavan Nambiar, former Civil Aviation Secretary & former Secretary Information Technology, Government of India as Chairman and Rajeev Sadanadan, former Additional Chief Secretary (Health & Family Welfare Government of Kerala) as member, to get the above issues examined.

    The committee will examine whether the privacy of personal and sensitive data of individuals has been protected under the agreements entered into with Sprinklr, whether adequate procedures have been followed to select this company and whether deviations, if any, are fair, justified and reasonable considering extraordinary and critical situation the state was facing in the relevant period.

    They have been asked to submit their report in a month''s time.

    Earlier in the day, the Kerala High Court while hearing a petition on the same matter came down heavily on the Vijayan government and asked it to come back on Friday on why the law department was kept out of this deal.

    The court told the state government not to upload anymore data unless the court is given answers.

    The court also asked why is that these works are not being done by the IT department of the state government and why the jurisdiction of the agreement is shown as in New York.

     

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