Kenyan Court Puts Hold on Digital Identity Scheme
A Kenyan court has ordered the government to stop implementation of its the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) until a constitutionally sound framework is in place, following a legal challenge by Kenyan civil society groups supported by the Justice Initiative.
Popularly known as Huduma Namba (service number) the scheme was launched in January 2019 as a centralized, digital population register, but raised concerns over its discriminatory impact on marginalized groups, as well as over its invasive design, including the centralization of massive stores of personal data without meaningful checks on overreach, unauthorized access, and other forms of abuse. The Justice Initiative supported the challenge to the scheme from the Nubian Rights Forum, which builds on efforts by the country’s Nubian minority to secure identity documentation and to overcome entrenched discrimination in the way that Kenya’s current registration schemes operate.
In its January 30 ruling, the court effectively maintained a stay initially placed in April on implementation of NIIMS, until a comprehensive regulatory framework is in place to address both data privacy issues and the exclusionary nature of the system.
It found the current legal framework on data privacy is "inadequate and totally wanting” as a result of a rushed process, and that NIIMS has a high risk of excluding an entire segment of the Kenyan population.
The court also determined that the collection of DNA and GPS information for identification is unconstitutional and nullified the legal provisions that would have included this data in the Huduma Namba scheme.
Nubian Community in Kenya v. Kenya
Africa's human rights tribunal found that members of Kenya's Nubian community face arbitrary procedures that restrict their access to vital national identity documents.
Kenya's National Integrated Identity Management Scheme (NIIMS)
Kenya's introduction of a national digital identity scheme has triggered protests from local human rights and community groups concerned with both privacy, and the scheme's impact on minority communities.
Nubian Rights Forum et al. v. the Honourable Attorney General of Kenya et al. (“NIIMS case”)
The Nubian Rights Forum and the Kenya Human Rights Commission have appealed a Kenyan High Court decision on the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) (or "Huduma Namba"), a national identity card system that would exclude millions of Kenyan residents and give the government all-encompassing surveillance powers.