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Kerala HC allows police to use call data records to do contact tracing of COVID-19 patients

The Kerala High Court disposed of a PIL filed by a Congress MLA Ramesh Chennithala that sought to invalidate a circular issued by the Kerala police that let it collect call data records (CDR) from telecom service providers for the purposes of tracing the contacts of COVID-19 patients. The division bench, constituting Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly, refused to label such data collection as “unconstitutional, null and void and unenforceable in law”, as the petitioner wanted, and did not forbid the police from collecting such data. However, it directed Kerala Police to ensure “strict confidentiality” of the CDR details and that they are used only for contact tracing for COVID-19. The petitioner argued that such data collection violated the COVID-19 patients’ right to privacy. During the course of the final hearing on August 21, the petitioner had sought that the police issue a revised circular limiting the purpose of collection to just contact tracing for COVID-19. The Court left it up to the police’s consideration. In a written submission to the court and in oral arguments, the police had argued that segregating only the tower location from CDR was not possible. The petitioner had then sought to implead telecom service providers to ascertain the veracity of the claim. The bench refused to implead TSPs. ‘Collection of CDR for data records violates patients’ right to privacy’: PIL The petitioner argued against a circular issued by the Kerala Police on August 11 through which the Additional Director General…

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