The Principal Secretary for Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) Mr. Jerome Ochieng has affirmed that the data collected during the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) exercise is securely guarded.
Ochieng said the government has put in place stringent measures to safeguard the citizens’ data that has been entrusted to the ICT Ministry.
The PS spoke Thursday during cross examination in a case where the government has been sued to explain why it has not published the data it collected during the Huduma Namba exercise.
The petitioners also sought to know if the personal information collected is safe, of which Ochieng answered that all personal data has been secured to protect the privacy of individuals, adding that it would not be published due to security reasons.
“We have not published documentation online because we do know to what extent it will go as this will be exposing the system to hackers,” he said.
The case was being heard before a three judge bench of Justices Pauline Nyamweya, Justice Mumbi Ngugi and Justice Weldon Korir at the Milimani High Court.
PS Ochieng told the court that data protection goes beyond NIIMS, noting that the policy guidelines for access to the information is in place and added the policy is clear on what could and what could not be accessed.
He also assured that the GPS information could not be used to locate individuals, and that the system which was built by Kenyans in the country is a high breed design system that is both centralized and decentralized.
The PS said the objective of the NIIMS was to come up with a single data that could be used as a source of truth and as a cross reference of all other multiple documents that were being done by various registration systems such as passport and civil registration bureau among others.
He told the bench having a single source of truth would help to maintain the sanctity of a single source of truth as it controls altering of documents
“We have multiple databases that do not talk to each other. Some are not even clean data. We took that opportunity to clean the data, make it authentic by cleaning and automating it through biometric data which was done through fingerprints,” said Ochieng.
“The digital data captures fingerprints and facial features. It is an important feature that reveals the identification of a person,” he added.
The case has been filed by the Kenya Human Rights Commission, the Nubian Rights Forum, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNHCR) with support from other civil society organizations.
The petitioners’ complaint is that they have a problem with Huduma Namba, as they think the system is designed in a way that it might exclude them and they also argue it may cause a breach of the right to privacy and nationality.
Responding to a question from lawyer Jackson Awele who wanted the PS to explain if the public was aware of what the exercise entailed, he said the government had created awareness and educated the public countrywide on what the data capture intended to do and how it would benefit them.
He said the data is vital as it would help the government in decision making and address unemployment issues, as he assured that the data is authentic, accurate and reliable.
The Respondents are the Attorney General, the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Interior and Co-ordination of National Government, the Principal Secretary Ministry of Interior and Co-ordination of National Government, the Director National Registration Bureau, the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology, Speaker of the National Assembly and the Kenya Law Reform Commission.
By Bernadette Khaduli