Photo: / John Wollwerth

Kenyan Court Ruling on Huduma Namba Identity System: the Good, the Bad and the Lessons

– Privacy International

  • Explainer
  • Posted by Good ID team (Good ID)
  • 3 March 2020

Privacy International assess the judgment in the Huduma Namba case, and the implications it has for the roll out of Kenya’s National Integrated Identity Management Scheme (NIIMS)

In this article, Privacy International - who provided expert testimony in the case on the key issues emerging in biometric identity systems around the world - analyzes the judgment in the following three areas:

“The clear wins, based on the demands of civil society, the parts that make some small steps forward but could have been better, and the disappointing losses.”

The piece also acknowledges other key areas of the case, including the need for a data protection framework, how systems like NIIMS can exclude, rather than include, and the importance of understanding the impact of these identity systems:

"The important fact is that detailed, engaged public participation in the development of an identity system is crucial. These projects are large, complex, and expensive - touching upon every aspect of people's lives. It is essential that there is discussion, consultation and debate; moreover, that this goes beyond the deployment of a system to the engagement with the public, stakeholders and civil society."

The piece concludes that while the judgment makes some important findings, such as the need for strong legal protections, it disappointed when it came to challenging the implementation of digital identity systems.

The judgment has significant implications for Kenya and beyond. It has a direct impact on the roll out of NIIMS and adds to the growing body of cases around the world dealing with the challenges posed by centralised biometric identity systems

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