Rights group seeks to block access to private information

People wait to be served at the Huduma Centre.Devolution and planning cabinet secretary Anne Waiguru toured the Centre at Tele posta Towers yesterday.Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE
People wait to be served at the Huduma Centre.Devolution and planning cabinet secretary Anne Waiguru toured the Centre at Tele posta Towers yesterday.Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE

The Kenya Human Rights Commission is seeking to block the installation and implementation of the single identification platform.

The provision permits the state to acquire private information from citizens, including DNA, without their consent.

The commission says the system, which was given the go-ahead by President Uhuru Kenyatta last December, will cause serious violation of rights.

The National Integrated Identity Management Systems (Niims) will create, manage and operate a national population register as a single source of personal information for all Kenyan citizens and registered foreigners in the country.

KHRC questions the legality of the law that brought it into place.

It wants the court to stop any government agents from installing or operationalising the Niims.

The commission says the law violates the Constitution and there was no public participation before it was passed.

The law in question requires in mandatory and unqualified terms that all Kenyan citizens, including children, submit their personal information to the state.

It, however, does not define what constitutes personal information, the applicable standards and principles to be observed in gathering the information including where, when and how the information may be gathered and by whom.

According to the KHRC, there is a danger in giving DNA information because it can be used for purposes that makes it susceptible to abuse by the state and/or unintended third parties.

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“The impugned provisions do not provide for any and/or adequate security guarantees for the integrity of the system. In the modern/digital age, personal information is vital data,” KHRC says.

Given lack of security integrity of the system and any safety net put in place the move by the state will expose Kenyans to unimaginable risk should the system be compromised in any way, it has said.

This amounts to coercion and blackmail for personal information in exchange for constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Also lacking is the provision for transitional mechanisms from current registration regime even though there is an existing system called Integrated Population Registration System.

The problem is compounded further because Kenya does not have legislation or policy on data protection.

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