Kenya: Reflections on the NIIMS Judgement

Published: 4/Apr/2019

By Magdi Amin, Investment Partner, Omidyar Network

This week, the High Court of Kenya suspended core aspects of the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS), popularly referred to as Huduma Namba, meaning “government service number,” pending hearings and the resolution of legal suits filed against the program.

The court’s decision gives the Kenyan government, civil society, digital rights advocates, citizens, and residents an opportunity to make changes that ensure NIIMS reflects Good ID in design and implementation going forward.

Good ID is our normative framing for digital identity systems that focus on individual empowerment while ensuring adequate safeguards.

At its core, Good ID is inclusive, offers significant personal value, and empowers individuals with privacy, security, and control.

Good ID issuers build trust with transparency and accountability.

And through thoughtful features, Good ID seeks to address exclusion, discrimination, surveillance, consent, and other key issues of our time.

The ruling was in response to a consolidated petition of three separate cases filed by the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), Nubian Rights Forum, and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNHCR). They expressed concern that the original design could potentially exclude segments of population. They noted the risks of collecting personally identifiable data at a national level scale without a data protection and privacy framework, safeguards, and recourse for harms. And they raised issues related to the lack of adequate public participation and inputs to the amendment of the Registration of Persons Act that they say infringes on basic constitutional rights, such as equality and non-discrimination.

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Themes: ID Documents and Passports
Regions: Kenya
Year: 2019