The High Court has declared the rollout of the Huduma Namba program illegal.
Justice Jairus Ng’aah ruled on Thursday that the government failed to conduct a data protection impact assessment in accordance with the Data Protection Act, 2019.
Section 31 of the act requires data processing to be preceded by a data protection impact assessment to evaluate any data processing risks for mitigation.
“An order is hereby issued to bring into this honorable court to quash the government decision of November 18th, 2020 to roll out Huduma cards for being unlawful,” Justice Ng’aah ruled.
“Order of mandamus is hereby issued compelling the government to conduct a data protection impact assessment in accordance with section 31 of the Data Protection Act before processing of data and rolling out the Huduma cards.”
The petition had been filed by Katiba Institute, which sought to stop the rollout of the Huduma Namba program on grounds that the government did not carry out data protection impact assessment as per the Data Protection Act, 2019.
The court dismissed the petitioner’s plea that sought to have the Huduma Namba rollout stopped, arguing that the government has already commenced the issuance of the cards. The judge directed the government to create safeguards to protect Kenyans’ data.
On Wednesday, Government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna said they have so so far processed 11.2 million Huduma Namba cards, of which 6.5 million have been collected.
The government plans to phase out the current national identity cards by December 2021 and replace them with Huduma Namba cards. Huduma Namba is described as the single source of personal identification for Kenyans, and persons resident in Kenya.