Uhuru signs Bill for protection of personal data, sets stage for Huduma Namba


Uhuru signs Bill for protection of personal data, sets stage for Huduma Namba

President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed the Data Protection Bill into law setting the stage for the controversial Huduma Namba.

The new law creates the position of a Data Commissioner who will oversee the operations of keeping data for Kenyans safe.

“The Bill sets out the requirements for the protection of personal data processed by both public and private entities,” a statement from PSCU said.

It also details functions of those who will process and control the data and provisions for transfer of data out of the country.

Application for exemptions and penalties for those guilty of contravening the newly passed law are also outlined in the Bill.

Pundits opine that the move by President is linked to the court case over Huduma Namba registration that was filed on grounds that Kenya had no legislation on data protection.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), Nubian Rights Forum, and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNHCR) had filed separate cases challenging the plan.

Huduma Namba, otherwise known as National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS), was introduced in April this year.

During the launch in Machakos, President Kenyatta said it would transform civil registration and data management in the country but also tame corruption and fast-track the implementation of the Big 4 development agenda.

Huduma Namba (NIIMS) is a unique and permanent personal identification number assigned to every resident individual to ensure such individual is distinctly identifiable.

According to the Huduma Bill, 2019, the unique number is to be assigned to every resident individual at birth or upon enrollment.

It is to be the single source of personal identification for citizens and persons resident in Kenya, harmonizing other national registration processes such as signing up for Identity Cards, National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), National Social Security Fund (NSSF), Birth and Death certificates or the Personal Identification Number (PIN) among others.

The government had already rolled out registration with requirements including fingerprints and other biometric data for identification.

However, on April 1, the High Court ruled that the government should not make the exercise mandatory or issue deadlines for the collection of NIIMS data.

The court also barred the government from collecting DNA data and GPS coordinates and from sharing the information collected with any foreign organization, pending  determination of the case challenging the exercise.

On Friday, the Data Protection Bill 2019 was presented to the President for signing at State House Nairobi by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.

Afterwards, the President met with executives from Amazon Web Service (AWS); one of the largest online commerce services in the Unites States.

Led by AWS Vice President Teresa Carlson, the delegation lauded the move to sign the Data Protection Bill into law.

According to them, it will enable them to set up an Edge Location that is meant to allow Nairobi to have better access to services on Amazon.

The meeting was the second one with AWS officials after the President held talks with them in Washington, DC earlier in the year.

I am delighted to welcome AWS’s investment in Kenya. The launch of Amazon CloudFront will put us in the forefront of accelerated innovation,” President Kenyatta said.

He noted that having Edge Location in Nairobi will give businesses and web application developers an easier way to distribute data in Kenya to thousands of users with low latency and high data transfer speeds.

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