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Kenyan Digital Identity System Shelved Over Data Protection Concerns

Privacy concerns see the proposed digital identity system paused until February.

Dark Reading Staff

December 8, 2023

1 Min Read
Kenyan flag with binary code running over it
Source: Mykhailo Polenok via Alamy Stock Photo

Due to the lack of any data-protection impact assessments done on it, Kenya will not be launching a digital identification system this year after all.

Kenya's High Court paused the rollout of the "Maisha Namba" system, which was due to encompass digital ID cards, unique personal identifiers, and a national population register, according to media reports. Local privacy and human rights groups said that the collection of biometric and biographical data to underpin the system was obtained unlawfully, that there was no legal foundation for the digital identity system, and that the rapid rollout of the of Maisha Namba dismissed data-security considerations.

In particular, lobbyists at the Katiba Institute said Maisha Namba "threatens to violate the right to privacy and the right to public participation of millions of Kenyans."

The system is set to be reviewed again by the High Court in February.

Maisha Namba follows another proposed digital ID program, Huduma Namba, which received similar criticisms over data privacy and was eventually dropped.

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Dark Reading Staff

Dark Reading

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