The Kenya Human Rights Commission in collaboration with other bodies that are aggressive with the protection of rights of citizens in Kenya are now supporting the move by High Court of Kenya to halt the rolling out of Huduma Number in the country.
Huduma number is an approach by the Government of Kenya to harmonize a database for the data of all Kenyan citizens in a centralized system.
The High Court of Kenya has compelled the Government to complete a data protection impact assessment, as required by the Data Protection Act (2019), prior to processing of data or rolling out Huduma Cards.
The Data Protection act regulates the processing of personal data and information and protects its processing through a Data Protection Commissioner.
Huduma number was made official in 2018, with the government of Kenya insisting the exercise was mandatory despite the High Court ruling that conluded that was was a mandatory exercise.
“Every resident individual shall have a mandatory obligation to present Huduma Namba in order to be issued with a passport, apply for a driving license, register a mobile phone number, register as a voter, pay taxes, transact in the financial market, open a bank account, register a company or public benefit organization, transfer or make any dealings in land, register for power connection, access universal healthcare services, register a marriage…” part of the bill Huduma Billl reads.
A consortium of organizations that are working on enforcing of human rights including the Data Protection of Act of 2019 has done an assessment of the processing of Huduma numbers and have found that process inadequate.
The consortium has determined that the Government National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) should complete a detailed risk assessment, developing a range of measures to address the risks and ensure compliance with the Data Protection law.
For the Government to comply with the Data Protection Act of 2019,this is what the consortium feels what should be done:
1. Ensure all Kenyans can access identification documents such as birth certificates and national identity cards prior to moving forward with Huduma Namba. If Huduma Namba is rolled out, it must be done in phases, with a clear transition period to eliminate discriminatory treatment and expand access to documentation under the current system.
2. Establish a robust legal framework and governance body via country-wide public participation: There is need for a national discussion about the future of identification in Kenya, including public input into the development of anchoring legislation, the system design, a governing body for NIIMS that can be held accountable for implementation and give effect to rights enshrined in the Constitution and other applicable laws.
3. Ensure the full realization of the right to privacy and data protection: The government ought to ensure the swift adoption of the draft Likewise, the government must realize its responsibility to comply with the Data Protection Regulations (2021) by guaranteeing threats to human rights are sufficiently mitigated and all necessary data protection safeguards have been implemented.