In recent days, the National Assembly has hosted public petitions around the Huduma Bill No. 57 of 2021 which aims to provide a primary law on civil status and legal identity.
It proposes to revamp the civil registration and identity management ecosystem, promote efficient delivery of public services, and provide the legal framework for Huduma Namba. The creation of the data commissioner’s office responds to legal concerns about the security and privacy of captured Huduma Namba data.
The government has also allayed fears that the new system will do away with the Immigration Department. Instead, immigration officers will continue to perform the same responsibilities, but under a different management structure.
In 2019, people were registered in Huduma Namba during the first phase. The envisioned rollout, however, faced headwinds due to the lack of a comprehensive regulatory legal framework. This is what the Huduma Bill seeks to address and build public trust on issues of privacy and security of personal data collected.
It expressly provides for inclusiveness measures that address the fears of alienation and discrimination of minority communities who have opposed the new system on the grounds that it would potentially deprive them of their right to acquire citizenship.
The National Assembly has undertaken public engagements by inviting petitions and several open forums to discuss sensitive issues. If the bill which is at an advanced stage of legislation is passed, Kenyans will get a unique identity document.
This will avoid the need for multiple IDs. Currently, citizens require separate documents for National ID, Driver’s License, NHIF, NSSF, Passport, and Voter’s Card, among others. The Huduma card will essentially consolidate all of this into one primary ID document. This will effectively eliminate cumbersome and separate registration processes for obtaining government and publicly funded services.
The bill also provides offenses and provides penalties that provide adequate safeguards against personal data breaches. Unauthorized access and unauthorized interference in the process will result in fines and punitive sanctions also anchored in the Computer Misuse and Cybercrime Act and Data Protection Act 2019.
The Court of Appeal, in its decision dated March 4, 2022, noted that the project had complied with the provisions of the Data Protection Act with respect to the Data Protection Impact Assessment and, as such, the project must continue to roll out across the country to capture those who have done so. not registering in the first phase and issuing cards to those who had registered
If the bill becomes law, registration will be on an ongoing basis. This will ensure that no one is left behind in the process. This should allay fears that the system’s architecture is designed to lock down certain executives of the company. On the contrary, eligible citizens who missed the first phase of registration for whatever reason have no reason to fear.
If implemented well, the advantages of Huduma Namba arguably outweigh its disadvantages. An effective trump card that suffices to identify a citizen at all levels is, after all, a global ideal. The US social security number is a good example. The countries of the European Union, pioneers in the digitization of public services, have also implemented a similar identification system. Ghana is also a good example in Africa while South Africa, Morocco, Rwanda are also developing the same.
-The author is a political analyst for the World Light Organization