Kerala BJP leader urges Union Home Minister to probe into State govt’s deal with US firm on COVID-19 data

Kerala BJP Vice-President AN Radhakrishnan has urged Union Home Minister Amit Shah to initiate a probe into a deal in which the Kerala Government allegedly shared medical details of people placed under COVID-19 surveillance with a private US firm.

“The Government of Kerala compromised the health surveillance data or personal medical information of 870,000 Indian Citizens under observations of the COVID-19 outbreak, by contracting with a US-based PR firm Sprinklr,” Radhakrishnan wrote in a letter to Shah on April 16.

The letter further read: “As per the government explanations on this issue, Sprinklr’s Chief Executive Officer, Ragy Thomas, a Keralite, offered the software services to the Kerala government free of cost. The state government had penned an agreement with Sprinklr for using the data management and analysing software to input details of people under COVID-19 surveillance.”

“This contract allows the Sprinklr to collect data from 870,000 vulnerable and potentially exposed people of the pandemic. The state government supposed to have agreed to use this healthcare analytic tool from Sprinklr for better prevention of the pandemic,” Radhakrishnan said.

Demanding an immediate investigation into the matter, he said, “We strongly recommended that Government of India should look into the deal made by Kerala Government with Sprinklr which we assume the corruption can go more than Rs 500 crore and State IT Secretary M. Sivasankar be kept out of the department for a fair enquiry.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the Kerala government put in the public domain all the documents of the deal inked with US-based company Sprinklr after facing allegations of breach of citizens’ privacy over the same from Congress-led Opposition in the state.

The government’s IT department published the deal papers, including purchase order, master service agreement and affirmation letter from IT secretary, service level agreement, the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) regarding data privacy and Kerala government’s right to the data.

This was done after opposition leaders alleged foul play in the contract inked with the US-based firm alleging that crucial data of 1.75 people in the state, collected as part of COVID-19 surveillance with the help of field workers, will be compromised. Congress also alleged that tenders were not invited for the deal, which was given to Sprinklr.

“The documents are being published here for greater transparency and clarity. The purchase order with Sprinklr was signed on April 2, 2020, effective from March 25, 2020. This is a standard order form the company follows internationally,” the state government said.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had also clarified that no fee was involved in the contract with US company and its CEO was an NRI from the state. He had said that the US-based firm is helping the state government by developing an application for health workers to store field data collected from the people under observation. Vijayan had said that the data will be stored in a secure server in the country.