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Kenyans told to be wary of personal Data protection

The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) has embarked on a country wide pu public awareness creation on how Kenyans can protect their personal data , their privacy and also on the complaint channels they can use.

The awareness campaign that started in Nyeri County is geared towards empowering the communities on their rights as data subjects, the obligations of data controllers and processors.

According to the ODPC data Commissioner Immaculate Kassait, Data controllers and processors are people and organizations who handle big data such as Banks, Insurance companies and even government .

“We want  Kenyans to be aware of how this  data handlers are holding their data, what are the rights of the people when it comes to that , how to make sure that the data held is actually held in security and is not misused”, she said

Speaking during a roadshow that went round the County, Kassait said that people should be digitally aware of their information and even who they are sharing it with, especially on the web.

“ We are saying data is your responsibility , “ Data yako jukumu lako”  it belongs to you to hold it preciously because once it gets out of your hand , then you do not know who will misuse it”, she said.

Kassait explained that in the event that one’s information is misused as in some cases that have been seen  when people are contacting you when you never actually gave your consent, ODPC have a complaint mechanism where one can complain ,  the matter is  investigated and one can actually be fined and penalized .

She gave an example of  digital leaders who have been provided with a guidance note that is to assist them in understanding and implementing data protection regulations effectively, taken through capacity building but also warned that when it comes to compliance the lenders can be held responsible for information breach and some have been found to do that.

‘The law provides that the  maximum administrative fine that can be imposed  for sharing an authorized data is Kshs. 5 million or one (1) percent  of your previous whichever is lower as stipulated in Section 63 of the Data Protection Act 2019”, Kassait said.

She noted therefore that when ones information data is breached, they should report to the ODPC within 72 hours

“Our work when you report a data breach is to go beyond and investigate and if one is  found liable , we have the necessary regulatory framework in terms of finding you ”, Kassait said.

Nyeri Governor, Mutahi Kahiga welcomed the move by the ODPC saying his government will be working closely with them, especially more so in adherence to the Data Protection Act.

“We would want to see vibrancy. We agree that  is an area that most Kenyans are still quite ignorant about and therefore we are using our own networks to be able to reach out and spread the gospel”,

He explained that as custodians of a lot of data as the government through collection of data for records, licensing also through various programmes, it is  an opportunity to engage and ensure that information is secure and protected.

He called upon the office of the ODPC  saying his office was ready to collaborate in terms of  training his staff on the matters of data protection  and they in turn are able to reach the community on awareness of their rights as far as data is concerned.

“When we look at the youth who are the greatest consumers of social media, where a lot of data and information is, I think we need to look at it by equipping  them so that they can make money and also informing  them so that they can be protected”, Governor Kahiga said .

Tetu Member of Parliament (MP) Geoffrey Wandeto lauded the significant strides being made by ODPC in terms of ensuring that data is protected and is not being used.

ODPC Data Commissioner Immaculate Kassait after paying a courtesy call to the Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga before embarking on the sensitization of data protection roadshow within the county.

 “ All these people have been victims of these strange messages on their phones.  They have been victims of the abuse on their Facebook pages and instagrams. Our accounts are always hacked and people sending pictures that are not right ” he said

The MP noted that it is very important to sensitize the community especially  at the ‘Mashinani” areas where majority are farmers  and therefore  need to be told how  their data is used by  factories,  agencies  and other programmes that require their data not forgetting that they also taxpayers and voters and whose data is spread in different place.

Mukurweini MP John Kaguchia said everyone should come on board to help as a country, to make sure that the data in place, be it private, personal or even corporate, is protected in a certain manner.

“As a parliament, we are willing and ready and prepared to  give the ODPC the legal framework that is necessary to ensure that they are able to do their work and ensure that we also enhance whatever regulations that they may deem fit, especially what they are getting from the field”, he said .

He added,  “ We need to have Kenyans data secure. Sensitization is necessary because this is one area I dare say many people are extremely ignorant and it is not once or twice that people take up their phone start uploading an app and continue agreeing on all the terms and conditions given and they have not gone through them and this is harmful as it is data mining which can eventually endanger ”, he said

As legislature, Kagucia said they can assist and support the ODPC on matters intrusion of data particularly passwords and private data and therefore should continue to address and closing all the gaps so that people in Kenya can confidently, hopefully, just log into a public Wi-Fi and do bank transactions without any fear of attacks from other people.

“We must get to that point of interaction in the areas where we have to synergize from different agencies so that we can have Kenyans having the protection of their data”, Kagucia said.

Data is a cross-cutting issue and especially  when it comes to e-commerce and in the digital age, where e-commerce is a driving force behind global trade, the protection of sensitive information has become paramount. Data protection serves as the guardian of trust, ensuring that businesses and consumers can engage in online transactions with confidence.

The protection awareness campaigns to sensitize the masses on their rights  will be going round Counties

By Wangari Ndirangu

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