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Questions Linger As Public Participation Exercise On Data Protection Bill Flops In Nanyuki

Senate ICT Committee Chairman Gideon Moi(L) and ICT CS Joe Mucheru during the committee meeting on Data Protection Bill 2018 at Parliament. [Photo/Courtesy]

A public participation exercise on the Data Protection Bill that was set to take place in Nanyuki, Laikipia County, on Friday did not happen, Kahawa Tungu has learnt.

The Bill, sponsored by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, received a nod from the Cabinet Secretary for Information Communication and Technology, Joe Mucheru, in May.

According to reports, over 60 individuals who travelled to Nanyuki were met with empty halls with no sign of the exercise taking place.

They were later told that the event had been cancelled.

“So we travelled from Nairobi to Nanyuki to attend the #dataprotection Bill public participation.We get here, there’s no one and we have just been informed that it has been cancelled. WITHOUT NOTICE. Public participation under siege @lawsocietykenya, ” Wakesho Kililo, a civil society lawyer, lamented on Twitter.

“@MoICTKenya @KENYAPARLIAMENT this is a real let down to the public that was really forward to giving their views on the #dataprotection bill. We demand answers! Cc  @lawsocietykenya.”

Read: Lawyer Mugambi Laibuta Pokes Holes Into Ministry Of ICT’s Data Protection Bill

Ms Kililo told this writer that they were not given a reason why the meeting had been cancelled.

“They didn’t tell us why the meeting had been cancelled. We just waited at the parking lot for a while, when we got tired we started asking around. They also didn’t have answers. So we called a friend of ours who called someone in Nairobi… that’s when we were told it had been cancelled, ” she said.

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“So had we not called we probably would have been kept waiting till sunset, ” she added.

A recent notice on the local dailies, signed by the clerk of the National Assembly Michael Sialai, listed timelines for the public participation exercise in nine counties — Mombasa, Kilifi Kisumu, Kakamega, Kericho, Nakuru, Isiolo, Nairobi and Laikipia.

The Laikipia event was set to take place in Nanyuki social hall.

The same event is expected to take place in Isiolo tomorrow, Saturday, September 14 and in Nairobi on Tuesday, September 17.

Data Protection Bill public participation notice

Following the premature cancellation of the exercise in Nanyuki a section of social media users raised concerns on whether the crucial exercise was designed not to happen.

The Data Protection Bill (2018) seeks to protect personal data from misuse by the state and private agencies.

It proposes that an agency which collects data from citizens must be able to take necessary steps to ensure the integrity of the information in its possession or control is guaranteed.

Further, it stipulates that unlawful access to the information is a criminal offence.

The Baringo senator wants an independent commission formed to oversee the implementation of the Act.

“If enacted into law, Kenyans will have no reason to worry about their personal data. They will know and feel secure about their personal information since all kind of data is covered in the Bill,” Gideon said in May after Mucheru stated that the bill was in line with the government’s development agenda.

Read Also: SIM Card Registration; Where Are Data Security Laws?

There have been increasing concerns over lack of a data protection law in Kenya for the longest time now.

In April, the government came under sharp criticism when it wanted to roll out the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) exercise popularly known as Huduma Namba.

Several humanitarian groups filed a case to challenge the exercise.

However, the High Court allowed the government to go on with the exercise but directed that the listing should not be mandatory.

A three-judge bench comprising Justices Weldon Korir, Pauline Nyamweya and Mumbi Ngugi, further, barred the government from collecting DNA samples and GPS coordinates as part of the NIIMS data.

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Written by Wycliffe Nyamasege


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