Govt's move to collect phone call records for contact tracing sparks controversy
Thiruvananthapuram: The government's move to collect the phone call detail records (CDRs) of the COVID-19 patients in the state has landed in a controversy. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said the details were being used by the police force as part of adopting innovative and scientific methods for effective contact tracing. Though he assured the details would not be used for any other purpose, the opposition has already taken a stand against this.
The DGP had suggested the other day during a video conferencing with the district police chiefs that the Intelligence chief and the ADGP in police headquarters should intervene to make phone records available from the BSNL and to avoid from delay in getting information from Vodafone. Soon after this, the opposition came up with protest.
If call records are collected based on the Indian Telegraph Act, the situation in which CDR of COVID-19 patients is collected in the state is unlikely to be supported by the law. Also this can be intrusion into the privacy of individuals, it is alleged.
The action is justified by the authorities claiming that it is part of the standard operating procedures issued by the central government to control the disease transmission. However, the guidelines of the Centre has not suggested to collect call details, it is pointed out.
The chief minister stated the other day that this was the most effective way of contact tracing and the state had been using this method for a few months. The information thus collected will not be passed on to anyone else or used for any other purpose and hence there will be no intrusion in the patients' privacy, he added.
Noting that innovative methods for prevention of spread of coronavirus were being devised by different district police chiefs, the CM said such measures will be shared mutually and will be implemented in other districts after making necessary changes as may be needed.
(With inputs from PTI)