DATA PROTECTION

Government imposes Sh500,000 fine on sharing personal data

The new law outlines key principles that will govern data processing

In Summary

• The Bill was presented to the President for signature at State House, Nairobi on Friday by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.

• Some of the provisions of the law will be an obligation that companies to be required to get consumers consent before selling their data to third parties.

President Uhuru Kenyatta signing the Data Protection Bill into law
President Uhuru Kenyatta signing the Data Protection Bill into law
Image: PSCU

A public officer who shares personal data with a third party without permission risks a fine of Sh500,000 or two years in jail or both.

This is after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law the Data Protection Bill of 2019. 

Signed on Friday, the law provides for the legal framework for the protection of a person’s privacy in instances where personal information is collected, stored, used or processed by another person.

 
 
 

The Bill follows the path taken by the European Union in enacting the General Data Protection Regulation  (GDP) in May 2018 and makes Kenya the second country in East Africa after Rwanda to have legislation dedicated to data protection.

The GDPR has been hailed as the first step in checking the excesses of powerful technology firms that collect vast amounts of personal data from their users for commercial or competitive advantage.

The new law outlines key principles that will govern data processing, sets out the rights of data subjects and assigns duties to data controllers and processors.

It also provides for the exemptions to processing of data and outlines data handling offences and attendant penalties.

The controversial law states that government agencies should not collect data on a person’s race and ethnic origin, religious beliefs, political persuasions or health status.

Obstructing the Commission or any other person from the performance of their functions without reasonable cause, knowingly giving false or misleading information to the Commission or any other person, failure to comply with any notice issued under the Bill.

This will attract a fine not exceeding  Sh100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both.

 
 

Processing of data in any other manner contrary to the provisions of the Bill which will attract a fine not exceeding Sh500,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both.

In addition to setting the conditions for the transfer of personal data outside Kenya, the Act provides for the exemptions to processing of data and outlines data handling offenses and attendant penalties.

Some of the provisions of the law will be an obligation that companies to be required to get consumers consent before selling their data to third parties.

The enactment of the Bill by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi is coming months after concern was raised over the Huduma Namba registration exercise, with those opposed to the process raising concern about the safety of the data collected by the Government. 

Some senators and MPs had threatened to derail the enactment of the Bill questioning whether personal data will be misused by government agencies and private agencies.

Even so, the Senate ICT committee and ICT CS Joe Mucheru have shown support for the new law saying it provides clear guidelines for personal data processed by both public and private entities.

 

In a separate session, Uhuru met visiting executives of Amazon Web Services (AWS) who are planning to set up an "edge location" in Nairobi.

An edge location is where end-users access services located on Amazon Web Services.

I am delighted to welcome AWS’s investment in Kenya. The launch of Amazon Cloud Front will put us at the forefront of accelerated innovation - enabling startups, enterprises, and our government agencies to focus on building the best user experience
President Uhuru Kenyatta

Experts say the East African nation lacks comprehensive data protection even as the country moves towards becoming a digital economy.

The Vice  President of AWS Teresa Carlson said the new data law paves way for the organization’s investment that will enable Nairobi to join other global cities as an edge location.

Uhuru welcomed the establishment of an edge location in the country by AWS and assured that Kenya has the requisite infrastructure and educated young population that will benefit from the business opportunities and jobs that will be created.