On the 18th of February 2019, the government of Kenya rolled out the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS), more popularly known as Huduma Namba (Swahili for “Service Number”). The system is intended to create and operate a national population register as a single source of information about citizens and foreign residents. It has been referred to by the government as the “single source of truth” in regards to citizenship documentation in the country.
Four days before, on the 14th of February, Nubian Rights Forum (NRF), a Namati partner organization, filed a case in the High Court of Kenya Constitutional and Human Rights Division to try and stop its rollout. NIIMS, they stated, is in breach of the constitution as it violates the right to privacy Article 31, the right to equality, and the right to non-discrimination in the bill of rights, as well as the right to public participation.
Other institutions like Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights filed similar cases on the 18th of February 2019.
NIIMS was established through changes made to the Registration of Persons Act via a Miscellaneous Amendments Bill and came into force on January 18, 2019, a mere 19 days after the President gave his assent. No public consultation was conducted.
Under the Act, the government will have the authority to collect including biometric data, including GPS location of their home address, DNA, and land registration number. The system also merges several registers including National Transport Safety Authority register that captures individuals’ vehicles and driving history, civil registry (births and deaths), registration of persons register that has ID details, and immigration register that has passport details.
The law, however, is not clear on who is in charge of the data, what data can be accessed and by whom, or on the role of the citizens in giving consent in what data should be shared. Without a data protection act in place, the Kenyan government will be exposing citizens to the risk of major data breaches. There needs to be protection beyond the assurance from the permanent secretary that it would “take at least 10 geniuses working for long hours to hack [the system].” NIIMS poses a clear threat to an individual’s constitutional right to privacy, including the right not to have information relating to their family or private affairs unnecessarily required or revealed.
Of further concern is the statement by the government that no one will access government services without a Huduma Namba. This is a violation of fundamental rights protected under the bill of rights: public services should not be pegged to documentation. If the government proceeds, they risk further marginalizing communities like the Kenyan Somali and Nubian communities who already face discriminatory treatment when applying for identity documents—which will be required to obtain the Huduma Namba.
To secure an ID card, members of these communities have to apply on certain days and are subject to extra scrutiny including appearing in front of a security panel to prove their nationality or having their parents provide their thumbprints on the application forms. If the registrar currently has the discretion to ask for additional documentation, despite it being contrary to article 27 of the constitution of Kenya, it is safe to assume that they could start demanding that these community members provide their DNA as there is now a legal provision under the law.
The litigation initiated by Nubian Rights Forum is an attempt to protect the rights of these community members and the nation at large, as enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya.
Unfortunately, the court did not grant provisional orders to stop the NIIMS pilot, despite the NRF case being certified as urgent. The matter is scheduled for hearing on the 6th of March 2019.
As NRF moves forward with the litigation, they are working to ensure the communities they represent are informed and actively involved. NRF community paralegals hold information sessions to take people through the case and the process in detail, and mobilize the community to attend court sessions. They are focused on ensuring ann empowering litigation process, where communities and individuals learn of their right to shape the law and the process by which it is done.
UPDATE: Read about the court case, our partners’ new efforts, and the challenges ahead here.
Last updated January 30, 2013.
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Last updated: May 25, 2018
This Policy describes our privacy practices and sets out your obligations and ours with respect to your use of the Site and the Forum. This Policy applies only to the Site and the Forum and does not necessarily apply to our offline collection of information.
Namati may collect and retain two types of information about Site and Forum visitors: (i) personal information that individual visitors voluntarily provide when interacting on the Site or Forum or on certain other occasions (such as via forms or in emails); and (ii) tracking data, which is data that is automatically collected from every Site and Forum visitor as they use and browse the site.
We may, from time to time, store and archive the information you submit to or through the Site and Forum. The information that we gather may include your name, title, and address, telephone number, email address, credit card number or other elements of personal information. In addition, if you contact us, we may keep a record of your correspondence, including any information contained therein.
You may decline to provide any personal information, but please realize that you thereby may be unable to register or to participate in activities or services offered on the Site and/or Forum.
In addition to the information you submit to or through the Site and Forum, we also may collect and store data from and about you gathered in the course of your use of the Site and Forum. We call this “tracking data.”
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Our use of your Information involves various forms of communication with you, including:
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We retain the right to transfer or assign all information pursuant to a merger, purchase or other transaction relating to Namati or our assets.
The current list of third-party service providers we use include:
Personal information you submit via your member account, other than information provided or content posted by you to public areas of the Site as described below, is deleted from Namati’s records following the deletion of your account. However, such information may continue to be retained by third-party service providers to which it has been disclosed for one of the reasons listed above.
Your Information is stored on Digital Ocean servers in New York, USA.
We take reasonable precautions to protect your information from loss, misuse or alteration. You should recognize, however, that there is no such thing as “perfect security” on the Internet, and we cannot guarantee the security of your information. In addition, because Internet communications are unsecure, it is also possible that the information you supply to us or your access of any information via the Site will be intercepted during transmission. We are not liable for any breach of our systems or interception of our transmission, and we hereby fully disclaim, to the fullest extent possible under law, any liability associated with any claim relating to a breach of security, data or information.
You should be aware that any information provided or content posted by you to public areas of the Site, including but not limited to interactions on the Site and information posted to the Member Directory (via your profile), the Tools Database and the Forum, may be read, collected or used by other visitors of the Site, who may not need to log in as a member to view the information. Namati is not responsible for the third-party use of any information provided in such manner. By participating in the use of the Site’s interactive features, you consent to Namati’s use or disclosure of any content that you submit. For more information on posting content, please see our Terms.
The Forum uses data about your posts and other activity to make automated decisions about whether your posts are spam.
The Forum may also use data about your posts and activity to award you badges and calculate a trust level for your account. Your trust level may affect how you can participate in the Forum, such as whether you can upload images, as well as give you access to moderation and management powers in the Forum. Your trust level, therefore, reflects Forum administrators’ confidence in you, and their willingness to delegate community management functions, like moderation.
From time to time, we may email users of the Site or the Forum information regarding important developments affecting Namati and/or the Global Legal Empowerment Network. We may also email users on occasion regarding the Site or the Forum. Such emails may be sent to users of the Site or Forum even if they have not requested to receive any communication from us.
You may choose to unsubscribe from future emails by using the unsubscribe link included in all mass email correspondence from Namati and the Global Legal Empowerment Network.
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Because Namati is concerned about the privacy protection of children who access the Internet, we comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Accordingly, the Site and Forum are not intended for use by anyone under the age of 13, and we do not knowingly collect information from anyone under 13 years of age without the consent of a parent or guardian.
We reserve the right to disclose any information to comply with any law, regulation, decree, judgment, order, subpoena or any other governmental order (“Order”) without any obligation to contest or verify the accuracy of such Order.
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The section titles in this Policy are for convenience only and have no legal or contractual effect.
The Site, the Forum, and any third party services they use, may be subject to additional terms and conditions regarding privacy and use of information. Your use of the Site and the Forum is subject to those terms and conditions, which are incorporated into this Policy by reference. In the event of an inconsistency between this Policy and any additional posted conditions, the provisions of the additional conditions shall control.
We may need to change the Policy from time to time in order to address new issues and to reflect changes on the Site or in the law. We reserve the right to revise or make any changes to the Policy, and your continued use of the Site subsequent to any changes to this Policy will mean that you agree to and accept such changes. You can tell if the Policy has been updated by checking the last revised date posted on the top of this page.
You can also access, remove, update or correct your information, and raise any questions or concerns regarding the Site or the Policy, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailing:
Namati Data Protection Officer
1616 P Street NW, Suite 101
Washington, DC 20036, USA
If you live in a country which has adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (EU; 2016/679), you have a right to lodge a complaint with your relevant supervisory authority about this policy and its application.
The Policy was updated in May 2018 to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations.