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Kenyan govt assures civil society digital ID will meet data protection, inclusion goals

Kenyan govt assures civil society digital ID will meet data protection, inclusion goals

The Kenya government insists that the design of the country’s third generation national ID dubbed Maisha Namba will respect the core principles of data protection, inclusion and trust.

The permanent secretary at the State Department of Immigration and Citizen Services, Julius Bitok, gave the assurance this week during a multi-stakeholder consultation meeting on the imminent rollout of the new digital ID system, reports Citizen Digital.

Kenyan President William Ruto is set to launch the Maisha Namba and Card on Friday September 29 in Nairobi.

During the meeting, the executive director of Amnesty International, Irungu Houghton, applauded the government for its determination to take its digital transformation effort to a new high, but raised concerns about the safety of data that will be collected for the Maisha Namba scheme.

Apart from trust, the Amnesty official said it is also important for Kenyan citizens to be “comfortable they understand and are aware of the opportunities of this digital platform.”

While assuring that the government will take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of citizens’ data, Bitok also underlined the readiness of the government to engage in broader consultations with more parties so as to make the system more trustworthy and inclusive.

The stakeholders agreed during the meeting on a much stronger sensitization and awareness campaign to explain the role of the digital ID in easing access to government and private sector services.

Several other civil society organizations recently raised worries that the government was on the path to repeating same mistakes made in the rollout out of the Huduma Namba which the government plans to phase out in the next 3-5 years.

Maisha Card won’t be mandatory

As the government seeks to win the trust and confidence of the population with regard to the Maisha Card, it has also clarified that its issuance will not be compulsory.

In a recent outing, Bitok said it will not be mandatory to obtain the Maisha Card because it will be accepted as a proof of legal ID alongside the ID documents currently in circulation, according to Capital FM.

However, he expressed optimism that thanks to its additional features, the uptake of the card would be attractive for users to have access to an array of critical services.

Meanwhile, an explainer by general information publication Kenyans details what the Maisha Card is all about, its benefits and use cases, as well as how Kenyans can register for and obtain it, among other things.

Bitok is quoted by the outlet as saying that first-time applicants will need to use their birth certificates for registration, and that the Maisha Namba will be linked with the voter’s registry and the central government data repository.

The official also says the new digital ID system will not require a fresh mass enrollment drive, but it will aggregate and streamline existing data from various government databases to a central system.

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