Office of Data Protection Commissioner to devolve services to Counties

Counties Editor's Pick Governance Mombasa

The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) will be rolling out its services to counties in a move to bring services closer to the people as it seeks to enhance greater awareness of the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2019.

According to the Deputy Data Director, Oscar Otieno, ODPC is set to devolve its services to Mombasa, Nakuru, and Kisumu cities by the end of June, with Eldoret, Garissa, and Nyeri Huduma centres expected to host their services in the first half of the financial year.

“Under our 3-year strategic plan, we intend to roll out our services to all the counties,” he added.

The Data Protection Act 2019 has the mandate to provide subjects with rights and remedies to protect their personal data from processing that is not in accordance with the Act.

The ODPC also has the mandate of registering Data Controllers and Data processors, receiving complaints from data subjects, investigating violations of the Data Protection Act, and carrying out public education on the right to privacy, among other activities.

According to Mr Otieno, the ODPC has only registered 2305 Data controllers and processors against the tens of thousands of others yet to register, saying failure to adhere to the Data Protection Act will attract sanctions.

“We expect compliance from all data controllers and processors who must carry out a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA),” he added.

Both Kenyan businesses and individuals are increasingly having to contend with emerging online threats, with Naivas supermarket and Kabarak University being the latest victims of cybercriminals.

Mr Otieno made the remarks in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County, where the Commission held an awareness outreach programme to over 100 Data Controllers and Processors drawn from both the public and private sectors.

He said so far, the Commission has received 2831 complaints, of which 922 were admitted, but 1895 were declined under preliminary review for not meeting the threshold.

“ODPC, under the Act, encourages self-regulation and the settlement of disputes by way of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) either through facilitation, conciliation, mediation, or negotiation as opposed to court processes,” he added.

Speaking at the forum, Kwanza Deputy County Commissioner Benedict Munyoki, who represented County Commissioner Gideon Oyagi, said increased collection of data by both government and private entities has fueled a threat to personal data by predators.

He raised concern that some agencies involved in data collection were misusing members’ data, hence the need to strengthen privacy mechanisms through the Data Protection Act.

“Some agencies were misusing members’ data, and we have witnessed increased cases of cybercrime, characterized by blackmail, hacking of Facebook, or emails,” he added.

Those sensitized on the Data Protection Act, 2019 included youth leaders, officials of boda boda operators, religious leaders, bank representatives, and both national and county officials, among others.

ODPC has launched a countrywide awareness campaign that seeks to inform members of their rights to data protection.

By George Kaiga

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