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Article

Kenya: Private sector urged to ensure data protection to minimise surveillance on human rights defenders

"A Perception Survey on Communication Surveillance and Privacy of Human Rights Defenders in Kenya"

...Human rights work demands use of communication tools ranging from face-to-face, telephones and e-mails and short message services (SMS). All these provide varied degrees of risk, which are also specific to the work the HRDs are engaged in, as well as contexts. Numerous Kenyan HRDs have raised concerns about their mobile phones being tapped and their communication intercepted. These experiences have implications for HRDs and, therefore, it is essential to ensure that HRDs are not the subject of unlawful surveillance practices and that they are able to do their work without fear of snooping by anyone...

Human Rights Defenders exhibited varying degrees of apprehensions on possible personal information breaches but there are gaps between concerns about online surveillance and the actual practice of information sharing. • The increased use of digital-based media and online interactions has enabled expansion and new forms of surveillance. The findings indicate that HRDs are exercising some caution in terms of what they share. However, this still exposes them to the risk of surveillance...

A number of recommendations are made from this research, which can help to improve and ensure sufficient safeguards whenever there is the collection and processing personal information for whatever legitimate reasons and ultimately, the work of HRDs in advocating a just society...[The private sector was urged to] ensure meaningful access, opt-out, and other rights, there must be a way to provide people with notice about all of the companies collecting their information...[It was also called upon to be] transparent about their business models as well as how personal data obtained as a result of the use of their services is being processed.