Political row erupts in Kerala over police access to phone records of Covid-19 patients | The Daily Star
01:20 PM, August 14, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:24 PM, August 14, 2020

Political row erupts in Kerala over police access to phone records of Covid-19 patients

A political row has erupted in Marxist-ruled southern state of Kerala over the decision of the state government to allow police to access phone call detail records (CDRs) of Covid-19 patients ostensibly for effective contact-tracing.

The state's main opposition Congress on Thursday flayed the CPI (M)-led Left Front government, saying the move is an "infringement" of privacy of citizens.

"Police collecting phone details is an infringement on the privacy of an individual, which is against the Supreme Court's latest judgment in the K S Puttaswamy case," Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala told reporters.

He said the opposition will raise its voice against this and demand its immediate withdrawal. "We will not allow Kerala to be converted into a police and surveillance state," he added.

As there were delays in sending the CDRs by telecom operators in some places, the Additional Director General of Police, Intelligence, had been entrusted to take up the matter with state-owned firm Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Vodafone, he claimed.

The government decided to use police help in containment measures as coronavirus cases began spiraling in Kerala, reaching 38,144 on Wednesday.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said CDRs were being used by police as part of "innovative and scientific" methods for effective contact-tracing.

The CDRs would not be used for any other purpose and there would be no intrusion into the privacy of the patients, he told the media yesterday, adding that this was the "most effective" way of contact tracing and the state had been using this method for a few months.

The Indian Medical Association also slammed the decision to collect CDRs and said fighting Covid-19 was a job of health workers.

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