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Data Ownership Issues Cloud State’s Scheme For Skills Development

A year after entering into an agreement with software company Mindtree for implementing its ambitious Kaushalya Karnataka skill-development programme, the state has decided not to renew the partnership citing data privacy as a main concern.

In an election year when the Skill Development, Entrepreneurship and Livelihood Department was under pressure to implement the scheme to train and provide employment to a large number of unemployed youth, the department signed a one-year agreement with Mindtree in October 2017.

Mindtree’s social inclusion platform, I Got Skills, was given the task of conducting tele-counselling, face-to-face interviews, matching candidates with trainers, and shortlisting candidates. To facilitate this, the state shared the data of about 8,95,000 aspirants , such as their names, phone numbers, qualifications and preferences, etc, with the partnering organisation. Though the agreement did impose terms and conditions on the partner to restrict the use of data and not allow its use for commercial gains or other purposes, department officials were later not convinced with the arrangement.

“Since the data is sensitive and we had shared them with the third party, we felt the arrangement gave room for doubts. We are not saying Mindtree misused or would misappropriate the data, but such arrangements give scope for commercial exploitation of data,” a senior officer with the Skill Development Department told ET.

Another concern was the agreement allowed the project partner to outsource tele-counselling. “During the initial conversations itself with the department, we pointed out the tele-counselling process will be outsourced,” said Abhishek Johri, head of partnerships, I Got Skills, at Mindtree.

A state e-governance officer said the department has no control over data-related agreements other departments get into with private players. “But, generally, in such agreements, data will reside in the department’s server and the project partner is given access to the data,” the officer said. The e-governance department is working on a policy on framing data-related agreements, he said.

Mindtree said it handed over all the data ownership to the Skill Development Department last month. The department said it has not renewed its association with Mindtree and will develop an inhouse system to filter candidates.

“Mindtree has cleaned the data and helped us in the process,” said Skill Development secretary Amlan Aditya Biswas. – Business Telegraph

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