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Cry of privacy violation as Kerala policemen check Covid patient call logs | India News


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala, whose scientific contact tracing strategy in the first weeks of the pandemic became a role model for others, has now created an ethical and legal storm with a controversial police decision to collect call detail records (CDR ) of Covid-positive citizens and develop “road maps” to track those who came into contact with them.
Opposition parties and legal experts have called the move a serious privacy violation, citing the 2017 Supreme Court ruling in KS Puttaswamy versus Union of India.
“The decision to recover CDRs from infected citizens is a serious violation of the right to privacy. The right to privacy of a person has been explained in detail in the Puttaswamy case by the Supreme Court. The police can search for information in specific crime cases, but people cannot be monitored in this way. This is not a police state, ”said former state law secretary BG Hareendranath.

Cry of privacy violation as Kerala policemen check Covid patient call logs |  India News

The police justified the measure as a necessary evil to combat the pandemic. CM Pinarayi Vijayan added to the outrage by admitting that “it has been going on for a few months.”
In a circular addressed to all senior police officers on Wednesday, Kerala DGP Loknath Behera said ADGP (intelligence) and ADGP (headquarters) should be in contact with BSNL to ensure CDRs are readily available when needed. . “They will also address the issue with Vodafone, as in some places they are delaying the shipment of CDRs,” the circular states.
The sources said that some telecom service providers had been hesitant to share CDRs.
Vijayan said the data collected by the police will not be used for any other purpose than the aforementioned. “Law enforcement agencies can collect those details. This is the best way to track contacts. The data will not be used for any other purpose, ”he said.
Police said CDRs were their best option for accurately mapping Covid-positive individuals, although there is no provision in law to search and verify a person’s call records for medical surveillance. In 2016, the Ministry of the Interior had issued guidelines for all states on the search for CDRs under the legal provisions contained in Section 92 of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973 or Section 5 (2) of the Telegraph Law of India 1885, read with Rule 419A of the Indian Telegraph Rules (amendment), 2007.
The law is clear on this: unless it is for a national security issue or a criminal investigation, CDRs are not allowed to be recovered.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala told TOI: “This is a very sensitive issue that can lead to a serious violation of people’s privacy. What the opposition is demanding is that CDR recovery be limited to contact tracing only and that the data be kept confidential. The government should be able to guarantee it. Let’s see how this turns out. ”
Union junior minister for foreign affairs V Muraleedharan said that recovering CDRs for the purpose cited by police and state government was “unheard of”. “It is also a contradiction that the same government that guarantees data privacy is doing the opposite.”
In the Puttaswamy case, the Supreme Court ruled that recognizing a privacy zone was nothing more than an acknowledgment that each individual must have the right to chart and follow the course of personality development. “Privacy is an intrinsic recognition of heterogeneity, of the individual’s right to be different and to oppose the current of conformity to create a zone of solitude. Privacy protects the individual from the penetrating gaze of advertising on matters that are personal in her life, ”says the ruling.
In the case of wiretapping, there is a more complex procedure in which permission is granted by the secretary of the interior and the matter is further reviewed by a committee composed of the chief secretary, the law secretary and the department secretary. general administration.
However, some experts point out that although the police cannot recover CDRs without the consent of a person, in the event of a pandemic, there is the implicit consent of a citizen to do so for the common good. “Unless, on this specific issue, a person specifically says ‘no’ to their CDR being retrieved and used to prepare route maps, it is implied that they have given their consent. But if he denies, the police can’t do it, unless he has committed some serious crime, “said former state police chief Jacob Punnoose.
Before the police took over contact tracing and prepared roadmaps for Covid-19 patients, the health department used to rely on voluntary disclosure of who the person was with and the places they were visiting.

Times of India