MUMBAI: An ultrasonography
machine is not a book one could easily open, observed the Bombay high court on Monday while dismissing a review petition against the installation of ''silent observer'' (SIOB) software in sonography equipment in Kolhapur.
A division of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Rekha Sondurbaldota
was hearing a review petition filed by the Indian Radiological Imaging Association
(IRIA) against the August 26 order that upheld the Kolhapur collector''s plan to install SIOB in sonography apparatus. Under the scheme, SIOB software will collect data that will be reviewed by third parties at a remote location. The petition urged review of the order stating that the SIOBs infringe on the privacy rights of patients, especially non-obstetric ones. Although a government website in available, the state is asking radiologists to fill forms on a private site, the plea added. Anita Bhaktwani
, advocate for IRIA
, argued that the SIOBs record images of all patients and there is no filter
system. "The collector and the appropriate authority can view the images. This will infringe privacy rights," she said. "If the authorities have to view one image of a pregnant patient, then they have to scan through all the earlier images. These could be of men and other patients," she added. The data from the SIOBs will be transferred with the help of persons from the installing company, Magnum Opus
, which will make it accessible to a third party, she added. The judges opined that it may not be possible to segregate images by a filter. They added that infringement of privacy can take place in some cases and not in all cases. "The possibility of misuse cannot be ruled out. However, it is not a book to go and open. There will be password to the machine. Also, it will be under the custody of the collector and not open to the public," said Justice Shah.
In their order, the judges noted, "Sonography machines will be accessible to the appropriate authorities and the public at large will not have access to it." Stating there is no merit in the contention that it will lead to an infringement of privacy, the judges rejected the prayer regarding disallowing the SIOBs. However, the plea for a direction to the state for filling of ''F'' forms on a government websites was upheld.