Kenya's new data protection legislation an additional safeguard on data sharing by corporations & govt. agencies

Author: Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, Published on: 18 November 2019

"Kenya is stepping up its citizens’ digital security with a new EU-inspired data protection law"

A new data protection law in Kenya is setting a high standard for the rest of the continent. As the country looks to engender more safeguards in the collection, handling and sharing of data, Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta has approved legislation which complies with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. 

The new law outlines restrictions on data handling and sharing by government and corporations. Any infringements of the new law will be investigated by an independent office with violators facing two-year prison sentences or fines of up to $29,000. The legislation comes amid increased calls for African governments to pay more attention to protection of data “to prevent governments and corporations from overstepping their boundaries by articulating the rights and freedoms of people in digital spaces.” The need is even more urgent given the rapid and ongoing adoption of mobile technology and digital apps. There’s also a concern in some quarters that Silicon Valley’s giants including Facebook, WhatsApp and Google are able to freely collect consumer data in African countries without any limits. It’s a call that’s resonated particularly in Kenya and across East Africa especially as digital lending apps in the region have come under scrutiny for predatory tactics which involve determining credit worthiness by accessing smartphone data including SMS, call logs, bank balance messages and bill payment receipts.

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