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Stakeholders laud countrywide campaign for data privacy and protection

The countrywide sensitisation campaign spearheaded by the office of the Data Protection Commissioner on Data Privacy and Protection Act (DPA) 2019 has entered its second phase to create awareness and ensure effective implementation and enforcement of the law.

The campaign that targets data controllers, processors and the general public has so far covered 17 counties out of 47 and intends to complete the remaining counties before the end of June this year.

Among the counties to be visited during the second phase are Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale in the coastal region.

The Data Protection Act that was enacted in 2019 seeks to protect the privacy of individual and Personal data by regulating the processing of personal information by data controllers and processors.

The commission is also engaging some critical stakeholders in a collaborative effort to step up public education on the need to protect personal data and monitor the compliance status of digital Controllers and Processors.

This is the first-ever campaign in Kenya dedicated to the topic of personal privacy and data protection and it also aims at raising awareness about the responsibilities of public authorities and private companies in collecting and storing personal data.

During the campaign forum in Mombasa on Wednesday, stakeholders lauded the commission for spearheading public education on data protection.

The key speakers at the Mombasa event agreed on the necessity to further work on awareness regarding the importance of personal data protection in today’s digital era.

Led by Mombasa County commissioner (CC) Abdirasack Jaldesa the speakers said the on-going campaign by the Data Commission will help citizens to know their rights and reduce cases of data breaches or privacy violations.

“We need strong laws to enhance digital security systems against the growing threat of data violation, “said Jaldesa in a speech read on his behalf by Assistant County Commissioner Irene Musyoki at Darajani Hotel.

The County Commissioner said there is a need to develop strategies for the safety and security of data collected by the government, corporate organizations and other entities.

He noted that the government is one of the biggest collectors of personal data for the purpose of improving efficiency in the delivery of public services saying the information provided must be safeguarded.

“The digital superhighway and creative economy is a key agenda of the government that will see over 5000 services being digitized hence there is need to put in place safeguards that will protect personal data,” added Jaldesa.

“Safeguarding the right to personal data protection is a challenge in view of the unprecedented global technological developments that have led to an abundance of personal data available online becoming one of the key resources of modern economies,” said Jaldesa.

He went on “That is why Kenya is committed to encourage, facilitate and, where appropriate, support practical co-operation in the field of access to information and the protection of privacy,” he said.

A participant during the forum, Hamad Ali Lenguri welcomed the sensitisation campaign saying the Public needs to be protected from the escalating rate of cyber-crime.

Lenguri who is a founder of Lavishat Youth Initiative in Mombasa said the commission should focus more on the safety of data collected and how the same is used by the private entities.

“The sensitisation forums to create awareness on data protection come at the time when the government and private organizations use digital technology to promote transparent and effective delivery of services,” added the youth leader.

He further said that individual privacy is a fundamental right protected by the constitution and welcomed the efforts by the Office of the Data Commissioner in protecting the same from online predators.

“Citizens’ rights are most often violated by using their personal data without legal grounds or their consent contrary to the intended purpose,” said Lenguri

Speaking during the maiden edition of the sensitization forums in Machakos County, Data Protection Commissioner Immaculate Kassait said Kenya seeks to be exemplary in informing the public about the value of data protection.

“The public is increasingly becoming aware of the importance of protecting personal data which is the first step towards a fully protected country,” she said.

Kassait says since the creation of her office they have embarked on strategic engagements and consultations with critical stakeholders in a bid to raise awareness on data protection and privacy in the country.

“We are focused on sensitising data subjects about their rights since data privacy and protection occupy a unique place in every facet of our lives and livelihoods,” said the data commissioner.

She also noted that the ongoing-campaign to visit all the counties will ultimately raise citizens’ awareness on personal data protection.

“As we seek to enforce the law on data privacy and data protection we don’t want to see a scenario where citizens struggle to fully understand their rights in the area of personal data protection” she said adding that the on-going public campaign is just a part of the broader activities aimed at strengthening the protection of personal data in the country.

She revealed that citizens should be aware that their right to protection of personal data is guaranteed by the Data Privacy and Protection Act (DPA) 2019 that strictly prescribes how their personal data should be processed once collected by authorized institutions.

By Mohamed Hassan

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