Huduma Namba: the Illegal Card

The High Court of Kenya recently declared Huduma Namba illegal.

The Huduma Namba registration was rolled out in 2019, with the government urging all citizens to register so as to be able to receive public services in government offices.

The exercise was conducted under the National Integrated Identity Management Systems to collect the citizens’ biometric data.

The documents required for the registration were one’s personal Identification card for adults and a birth certificate for children.

Any other additional documents such as NHIF card and driving license, among others were also required.

All the information in those documents would then be integrated and stored in that one card, which has an identification number called Huduma Namba.

The data collected would be used in national planning, social service, project resource allocation and project infrastructure.

As per the government’s directive, citizens would not receive public services without producing the card.

However, the process was stopped by the court ruling.

Failure by the government to conduct data impact assessment test was cited as the main reason for the court decision.

The data impact assessment test is aimed at identifying risks that could arise due to a breach of privacy, loss of data and unlawful abuse of personal information, a data protection organisation in the country noted.

The provisions in article 31(c) and (d) of the constitution guarantee that every person has the right to privacy including not to have the privacy of their communications infringed.

Law scholar Yash Pal Ghai and Katiba Institute had in November last year challenged the rollout of the cards over lack of guarantee against theft or misuse of Kenyans’ personal information.

They argued that the government planned to carry out the rollout of the cards before conducting a data protection impact assessment as required by the constitution.

Despite the ruling, the Huduma cards have already cost the taxpayers a whopping Ksh. 10.6 billion.

Thousands of Kenyans across the country have already received their huduma cards.

Some are yet to get theirs.

Others never heeded to the government’s clarion call for registration.

As citizens continue to ponder the confusion, their decision on whether or not to pick the Huduma Namba cards is set to be informed by what the government will say concerning the same.

Kenyans are still expressing their feelings and airing their opinions on the same.

Some are wondering if the government did not offer a keener eye on the issue of data privacy or if the whole process had been doctored to take this path.

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