The Controversial Sprinklr Case Kerala 2020 [Second Committee to Review Findings]

Now Kerala Government has constituted a new panel to probe into the controversial sprinkler case in Kerala.

The inquiry committee is not to uncover the facts regarding the allegations raised by the opposition and BJP in Kerala, but to study the findings of the first panel.

The big question is what if the findings of the second committee is also against the government.

Will there be a third committee to study the findings of the earlier 2 committees?

Pact with Sprinklr is the first controversial one that shook the Kerala Government during the final leg of its 5-year term.

The Pinarayi Vijayan government received accolades from across the world, especially from renowned newspapers like The Washington Post and The Guardian in handling the Covid-19 during the initial months of the pandemic outbreak in Kerala.

But that image has been tarnished by this data-sharing contract with Sprinklr and turned out to be the first bottleneck in its way ahead.

It was when the present government itself has been aiming for a repeat term.

After Sprinkler Case Kerala Many Allegations and Controversies Followed

Even though the controversial Sprinklr pact is the first allegation against the government, many controversies like the Gold Smuggling Case had followed since then.

The Kerala Government and LDF have described the Sprinklr Case Kerala as an unconventional act during an uncertain time.

The allegation against Sprinkler Pact

What was so unconventional and uncertain for this Sprinklr Case Kerala.

The whole issue gained momentum after the allegations by the Opposition leader of Kerala, Shri Ramesh Chennithala.

The opposition leader had put forward several allegations against the Sprinklr Case Kerala at a press meet on the 10th of April, 2020.

In a state with about 3.5 Crore people, the specific health data of 1.75 lakh people have been collected and transferred to a company operating from abroad.

It was alleged that the data included information regarding ration card details and it was worth 200 crores also alleging that data has been collected and transferred as part of Covid-19 data collection.

With more details and related documents to prove the same, the opposition leader has met the press again.

The opposition leader Shri. Ramesh Chennithala has revealed the name of the company as Sprinklr and raised concern about human rights.

Sprinklr – The controversial company

It was when the first lockdown has been implemented and Kerala was slowly dragging towards a huge number of covid cases.

A mobile app has been provided to the health workers to feed data regarding those who are affected with covid, those who were in quarantine, and those people who are directly associated with Covid-19 patients.

The SaaS application by Sprinklr was behind scrutinizing and managing the data which was fed to by the app.

The American company Sprinklr who developed this app was selected by the IT department of Kerala for its fight against Covid-19

Health workers had tirelessly collected and fed maximum data into the app during the time.

  • How Sprinklr was selected?
  • Is the data being collected is in our control?
  • Whether those who had shared their data was aware of the same?
  • Will the collected data be misused?
  • and questions regarding privacy concerns had raised several questions against this pact.

Who is Sprinklr?

Claimed to be one of the best Customer Experience Management Platform, Sprinklr is owned by American Malayalee who hails from Mavelikkara.

The question regarding How the Kerala government has selected Sprinklr for this data collection project was answered with these answers like the company head being a Malayalee and the free services offered by the company in managing the project.

The authenticity of this agreement with Sprinklr was questioned as the data worth 200 crores is being managed by the company.

The company was also alleged earlier as part of data collection activities done for Donald Trump during the US presidential election campaign.

When questions were raised about the company’s projects, the Kerala Government has iterated the fact that there is no corruption as monetary benefits are not involved.

Privacy regarding the Sprinklr Project

As the government has iterated that the data has not been sold and the Government of Kerala and people own the same, it is not true.

Because the collected data of the Malayalees can be misused and can be made available for sale, for those who require the same, is a human right violation.

When the controversy got murkier in such a way that it was going beyond the control, the government had tried to pacify the situation by revealing that instruction is in place to upload data only to the Government website and not to the database which is handled by Sprinklr, but that has gone in vain.

But the opposition has claimed that the data was being uploaded to the Sprinklr server.

Still, there was a big question of how the data will be used by the Sprinklr after the project is over.

This Sprinklr Case Kerala which got raised when initiatives by Kerala Government to curb Covid-19 was acclaimed world over got tarnished in a couple of days.

Even though the questions raised by the High Court of Kerala, Changes in the Sprinklr Contract, and Concerns raised by the inquiry commission cannot satisfy the allegations of selling the data to a foreign company.

First and Second Enquiry Committee for Sprinkler Case Kerala

The first committee has put forward their findings which were actually against the IT Department and now a second committee has been constituted to uncover the facts.

Before the first committee had constituted the Leader of Opposition had raised several questions like,

  • Was there needed to be a file associated with the pact?
  • Is an allegation worth INR 350 Crore of data misuse case was against this company?
  • Why Kerala Government didn’t look at the track record of the company before entering into a pact?
  • Was the cabinet been informed about the company and pact?
  • Was there legal vetting?

The chief minister of Kerala Shri Pinarayi Vijayan has replied to the questions of the opposition by saying this,

The project regarding Sprinklr was initiated and the data collection started just because the state was going through an uncertain time fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and needed sufficient information to forecast the situation and manage the same effectively.

The principal IT secretary has also told that the pact between Sprinklr and the IT department was a purchase decision and acted according to the personal belief that a legal consultation was also not needed.

The big question is not regarding how the principal secretary was thinking about the same but what all terms and conditions were followed when the Kerala Government is entering into a pact between a foreign company.

In the press meet Chief Minister Shri. Pinarayi Vijayan had said that as the situation seemed inevitable to agree with Sprinkler due to Corona, but the fact is that there were only less than 10 cases per day during the above-mentioned time ie only 5 to 6 cases were being reported daily.

Now the corona cases are beyond 5000 cases and one time the count had gone beyond 10,000 as well.

These all facts were considered while looking at the case by the Honorable Court and the main questions raised by the court were,

  • Why the details of Covid-19 patients are being uploaded to the cloud?
  • A considerable number of Covid-19 cases weren’t reported to enter into this pact?
  • Why the government didn’t deploy cloud servers to collect the data?
  • Why the data was uploaded to Sprinklr Server?
  • Did we need to collect the data of 80 Lakh people in Kerala?
  • The court also asked about how the jurisdiction has been set to Newyork during any differences concerning the services?
  • and asked why the opinion of the Legal Department of Kerala was not considered?

The court had found and came to a resolution that, Covid-19 pandemic is an uncertain situation and didn’t underestimate the Saas services offered by Sprinklr but raised concerns and judged regarding

  • Whether any consent has been taken from the parties from whom the data was collected?
  • After analysis, the data has to be returned to the Government
  • No disclosure of the data is allowed to the third party and it cannot be used for promotions
  • The logo of the Government should not be used in any case by the company
  • Data must not be used for any business needs
  • It must be notified to the citizens that Sprinklr is collecting the data
  • The sole responsibility for data leaks will be vested with the government.
  • If there is any privacy infringement, action will be taken against Sprinklr
  • Personal data should not be shared with Sprinklr

Now, look at the answers provided by the Kerala Government about the Sprinklr case in Kerala.

Q : Why Sprinklr was selected for this project?
A : Because the company was found credible in its operations.

Q : Whether the citizens were informed that an American Company is collecting data?
A : Data is fully under the control of the Government

Q : Whether data leak had happened or not?
A : Data is being uploaded to Amazon Cloud Server

Q : How to ensure that data leak will not happen?
A : In any case of a data leak, a case can be registered in India.

Q : If the data has been misused whether we need to appear before the Newyork Court?
A : Juristriction does not matter as the case is concerned with privacy infringement

Q : Why some companies were not short-listed and tender was not invited?
A : Sprinklr was ready to provide free services about Big Data Analysis

Q : Why Indian Technology was not leveraged for Big Data Analysis?
A : Sprinklr was a participant of IT Conclave, 2018

Q : Why consent was not taken from the Legal Department?
A : Because it was an immediate decision to appoint Sprinklr

Q : Sprinklr was earlier accused of Data misuse?
A : Commonly, many cases will be there against big companies

Q : Was IT Secretary had taken action in favor of the company?
A : This news just to defame the government

Important Dates of Sprinklr agreement

25th of March 2020The activities related to the Sprinklr pact and
usage of the app started ie Sprinklr had started
collecting data a week before the agreement came into force.
2nd of April, 2020After 7 days the government had
signed on the purchase order.
10th of April, 2020All these facts came to the
limelight when the opposition leader revealed the same.
14th of April, 2020A non-disclosure agreement
was added to the agreement

When Sprinklr started collecting data on 25th of March, the Non-disclosure agreement was not in effect.

Sprinklr Case Kerala: First Committee Report and Findings

After serious allegations were put forward by the opposition and the court raised many questions regarding the agreement with Sprinklr, the government has constituted a committee to enquire about the whole process,

The committee chaired by M. Madhavan Nambiar (Ex Aviation Secretary) and comprised of Gulshan Roy (Cyber Security Expert) and Rajeev Sadanandan

A report has been submitted before the government by the committee on October 17th, 2020.

  • The key findings in that report stated that
  • M Sivasankar had taken the decision and signed on behalf of the government who is currently one of the prime accused in Kerala Gold Smuggling Case
  • Local Self-Government Minister, Health Minister and concerned officials were unaware of this agreement with Sprinklr and didn’t see the files regarding the same
  • Adequate measures were not taken while entering a contract with a foreign company.
  • Whether seeking consent from the central government was needed
  • The opinion of the legal secretary was not requested
  • No adequate measures were taken by the government to avoid data spills or any unintentional information disclosure.
  • Finalized that much-needed measures were not taken when entering into this agreement with Sprinklr

The committee had also recommended that Digital Technologies has to empower enough to make the data more secure.

The Nambiar Committee in their report had criticized the government for its actions in favor of Sprinklr Case Kerala has not yet been revealed.

Madhavan Nambiar himself had expressed his view that the report should be disclosed to the public and actions must be taken

The publication of this report was withheld by the government and another committee has been constituted to study the first report

Wrapping Up

If the first committee find any wrongdoings by the government then there will be a second one, if the second one finds the same then there will be the third committee and go on

How many allegations have been faced by the government, how many explanations were given, how many cases against the government, how many arrests and the number seems countless.

The politics in Kerala is now going through a situation that wasn’t faced ever before.

The results of local-self government elections are near and after that, there will be assembly polls.

Expecting a second term and the much-acclaimed Kerala Model Development was first stumbled upon on the Sprinklr Case Kerala and after that game has been taken over by the Opposition after that huge blow came as Gold Smuggling Case. Life, K-Phone, and KIIFB, and the allegations continue which was fueled by the investigations by CBI, NIA, and ED.

LDF had got a bit upper hand when allegations are raised and vigilance cases were registered against various UDF MLA’s including the opposition leader Shri. Ramesh Chennithala for alleged acceptance of bribe from business tycoon Shri Biju Ramesh.

Even though the aim for both LDF and UDF is a win in assembly elections 2021 the contest in local self-government elections to conducted in December 2020 is considered as semi-finals.

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Answer

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