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Exemplification of Good ID in Kenya’s Digital ID System

#GoodID Awards Community Champion, Linda Bonyo, is CEO and founder of The Lawyers Hub

Lawyers Hub is a policy organization that focuses on providing innovative and technology driven solutions to policy, including internet governance, digital trade, digital ID, and digital inclusion.

It does this by bringing together lawyers, tech professionals, civil society, academia, and professionals to discuss and develop sound policies that guide proper development and use of digital technologies.

It also believes in the use of technology to improve court processes and supports tech-enabled access to justice.

As an organization that has one of its key focus areas in digital ID, Lawyers Hub believes that a digital identity system should be governed by Good ID, which is inclusive, offers significant personal value, and empowers individuals with privacy, security, and control. (1)

Lawyers Hub believes that a good digital ID should have built-in safeguards that ensure privacy and security

This is because a digital ID user can be exposed to risks, such as cybersecurity breaches and privacy violations. A good digital ID should give users access to their personal data, decision rights over who has access to it, with transparency on who has accessed it.

Lawyers Hub believes that a Good ID should ensure the inclusion of all citizens and residents within a country. It believes that a digital identity system should offer an equal and fair opportunity to everyone to establish and use digital identities that they can authenticate themselves when needed or desired. (2)

Lawyers Hub believes that a Good ID should prioritize user value. That is, facilitating access to a range of government services, accurate and precise records reflecting the user’s preferred level of privacy, identification and authentication processes that are as straightforward as possible, and interoperability and portability of users' data so that identities can work across services and sectors while upholding security and privacy.

It also believes that a Good ID should ensure user control by offering transparency so that individuals see who is collecting and divulging their data, what data trails are forming as a result, how others are using and processing their information, and for what purpose.

Lawyers Hub also believes that a Good ID should ensure user security. This means that the digital ID ensures limits on the amount of data collected and stored, and indicates clearly the roles and expectations governing the behavior of system administrators, as well as anyone else who interacts with data in the system.

It believes that a good digital ID should employ stringent cybersecurity measures, strong encryption, and measures that block unauthorized access to the data systems, safeguard from breaches, and disclose breaches to all parties affected.

Linda Bonyo was voted winner in the #GoodID Awards privacy category

Employment of Good ID in Kenya’s digital identity system, however, faces significant challenges such as: exemption by governments from privacy provisions, expenses in implementing privacy provisions, exclusion of individuals from the system, collection of excessive data such as GPS coordinates and biometric data, and cybersecurity risks, among others.

The Kenyan government is notorious for creating legislative provisions that exempt it from compliance with certain privacy provisions. This is done mostly by hiding behind legislation on national security.

Another challenge faced by Good ID is that its implementation creates expenses that may not be met by the government and individuals.

It also faces the challenge of collection of excessive data such as GPS coordinates and biometric data which is intrusive to individual’s privacy rights.

The digital ID system allows for the collection of GPS coordinates and DNA, which is contrary to the court's judgment in Nubian Rights Forum & 2 others v the AG, that declared the collection of such data unconstitutional. (3)

Another challenge faced by the digital ID system in Kenya is cybersecurity risk caused by the creation of a centralized database. (4)

A centralized database is comprised of highly sensitive information that may be susceptible to breach by malicious actors and public authorities.

  1. Four Elements of Good Digital ID Explained
  2. Omidyar Network Unpacks Good ID
  3. Nubian Rights Forum & 2 others v Attorney General & 6 others; Child Welfare Society & 9 others (Interested Parties) [2020] eKLR
  4. National Digital Identity Programmes: What’s Next, Access Now