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Blow to Ruto as High Court suspends roll out of new digital IDs

The High Court suspends the issuance of new digital Identity cards (IDs) known as Maisha Namba.

The High Court has suspended the issuance of new digital Identity cards following an application filed by Katiba Institute.

While delivering his ruling on Tuesday, December 5, Justice John Chigiti agreed with the petitioners, Katiba Institute, who had argued that a data protection impact assessment was not done and gave orders halting the rollout temporarily.

Katiba moved to court challenging the government’s decision to roll out the new digital IDs before conducting a data protection impact assessment. 

Katib argued that Section 31 of the Data Protection Act requires the Respondents to conduct a data protection impact assessment in a scenario where data processing is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of a data subject by its nature, scope, context, and purposes. 

“Mandamus compelling the Respondents to conduct a data protection impact assessment per section 31 of the Data Protection Act before piloting or rolling out the Maisha Namba, including the digital card, digital ID, unique personal identifier, and National Master Population Register”, the Institute argued.

Justice Chigita directed Katiba that the application be served to the respondents within 7 days for the interparty hearing of prayer.

The case will be mentioned on February 6, 2024, with a view to securing a judgment date.

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On November 1, the Ministry of Interior kicked off the process of piloting Unique Personal Identifiers (UPIs) also known as the Maisha Namba.

The digital ID has been touted as the primary and lifelong identifier for Kenyan citizens.

While addressing Civil Society ahead of the rollout, Immigration, and Citizen Services Permanent Secretary Prof Julius Bitok noted that the pilot phase would target first-time applicants and those seeking to replace their IDs.  

The new generation IDs were set to be launched by President William Ruto this month of December 2023. 

The IDs were previously scheduled to be launched by the Head of State on October 2, 2023, at Nakuru Athletic Club but the government postponed the event due to unavoidable circumstances.

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