HUDUMA NUMBER ROLLOUT ILLEGAL, HIGH COURT RULES

A high court in Nairobi has rejected a decision by the government to roll out the Huduma Numbers and called the process illegal.

Speaking at the court on Thursday Justice Jairus Ngaah faulted the government for not conducting a data protection impact assessment before rolling out Huduma Number cards last year.

“An order is hereby issued quashing the government decision of November 18, 2020, to roll out Huduma cards for being ultra vires of the data protection act 2019,” Ngaah ruled.

The decision comes after Katiba Institute and law scholar Yash Pal Ghai challenged the roll-out of Huduma Namba cards over lack of guarantees of theft or misuse of Kenyans’ personal information.

The lobby group and Prof Ghai argued that the State failed to subject the fresh registration of Kenyans to data protection impact assessment (DPIA) — a requirement under the law.

The High Court in return also ordered the government to carry out the impact assessment before rolling out the Huduma cards.

“Order of mandamus is hereby issued compelling the government to conduct a data protection impact assessment in accordance with section 31 of the data protection act before processing of data and rolling out the Huduma cards,” the Judge ordered.

The assessment is aimed at flagging risks that could reveal breaches of privacy, loss of data and unlawful use of information like names, date of birth, postcode and residences.

With the decision, politicians and Kenyan citizens are set for a showdown of words as the country gears up for the 2022 general elections.

By Shadrack Andenga Odinga

shadrackandenga@gmail.com

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