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Court ruling on Kenya's contentious national ID system

Court ruling on Kenya's contentious national ID system

Kenyan courts will not stop registration linked to the country's new National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS).

The Kenya Human Right Commission (KHRC), Nubian Rights Forum, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) each filed cases challenging the legality and implementation of the NIIMS.

According to a conditional ruling, the government may not enforce registration and the deadline to register all citizens over the age of 6 years old within 45 days has been removed.

The government had also initially stated that citizens who did not register and receive "a unique number" from NIIMS will not receive services.

However this was challenged and the ruling says all citizens will receive services, irrespective of whether or not they have registered with the new platform.

"The respondent shall not compel any member of the public to participate in the collection of personal information and data in NIIMS. Secondly set any time restrictions or deadlines as regard to the collection of the same information and data in NIIMS," reads an excerpt from the ruling.

DNA data

The Kenya Human Right Commission has also challenged the collection of DNA data, arguing that it infringes on the right to privacy.

The court ruling has responded: "The inclusion of DNA as one of the unique identifiers or attributes in the definition of biometric in section three of the registration of persons act be and is hereby suspended pending the hearing of the consolidated petitions."

The government has also been barred from sharing information on the system with third party entities, including national and international agencies.

KHRC posted a tweet saying the conditional ruling was a win for privacy in Kenya.

"We consider the court ruling issued to deal a fatal blow to the attempted mass data surveillance of the Kenyan people. We are confident that this unconstitutional project will be declared null and void," it said.

The government expects to launch the programme nationally from today.

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