The High Court has quashed the government’s rollout of Huduma Namba cards, saying the process contravenes the Data Protection Act 2019.
Justice Jairus Ngaah on Thursday ruled that the state erred by not conducting a data protection impact assessment before rolling out the cards.
“An order is hereby issued to bring into this honourable court to quash the government decision of November 18 2020 to roll out Huduma cards for being ultra vires of the data protection act 2019,” the court ruled.
The judge has further ordered the government to carry out the impact assessment before rolling out the cards.
“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,” Judge Ngaah ordered.
Katiba Institute and law scholar Yash Pal Ghai moved to court last year to challenge the decision by the state to roll out Huduma Namba cards without carrying out the Data Protection Impact Assessment.
The lobby group and Prof Ghai argued that the assessment would identify the risks such as breaches to privacy, loss of data, while some Kenyans might be locked from the roll-out because they lack identity cards.
The lobby said the move is also a threat to the right to privacy under Article 31 of the Constitution. The court heard that section 31 of the Act, 2019 requires the government to conduct a data protection impact assessment where a processing operation is likely to result in high risk to the rights and freedoms of the people.
Huduma Namba is a product of Kenya’s National Integrated Identity Management Scheme (NIIMS), which is a biometric database of the Kenyan population, that will eventually be used to give every person in the country a unique “Huduma Namba” for accessing services.