Immaculate Kassait was today officially sworn in as Kenya’s first data commissioner. The swearing in ceremony was presided over by CoA registrar, Moses Serem. Kassait was appointed as Kenya’s first Data Commissioner last week after undergoing a vetting process at the National Assembly.
The data commissioner’s most immediate task involves the controversial National Integrated Identity Management System popularly known as HudumaNamba.
Kassait is expected to ensure the integrity of the system, which is intended for the creation of a national population register. A number of Kenyans and lobby groups have expressed their dissatisfaction at the system for fear that it could be abused.
Kassait’s other duties will involve the protection of Kenyans’ data. During her vetting, the newly appointed Data Commissioner said that international tech giants including Google and Facebook would be taken to task in regards to how they handle Kenyans’ data online.
Garissa Town MP Honorable Aden Duale said that Kenya has many data processors, including quacks and unregistered controllers who have access to huge volumes of unprotected data.
The commissioner will be required to put together and store records of the data controllers for oversight.
“We will investigate and give penalties where necessary. The Data Commissioner is supposed to enforce the law and it will be my role to do that,” Kassait told the Parliamentary committee during the vetting process.
The government passed the data protection act in 2019, but without a data commissioner, the laws could not be effected. The Data Protection Act 2019 gives the commissioner powers to investigate data breaches and issue administrative fines where applicable.
Kassait’s office will also handle complaints from people whose data has been infringed upon.