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Economy

State barred from collecting DNA in ‘Huduma Namba’

Adults applying for documents such as IDs will
Adults applying for documents such as IDs will be required to provide new personal details. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Three judges have given the go-ahead for the launch of fresh digital registration of all Kenyans set for today, but barred the State from collecting citizen’s DNA, forceful listing and locking out the unregistered from government services.

The three-judge bench comprising Justices Weldon Korir, Pauline Nyamweya and Mumbi Ngugi Monday ruled that the government should proceed with the digital listing for the unique identity known as “Huduma Namba” (Service Number).

The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), Nubian Rights Forum and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNHCR) had opposed the launch of the National Integrated Identification Management System (NIIMS) for fear of hurting human rights.

“The petitioners have pointed out prima facie elements but we are not satisfied on the need for a conservatory order,” the High Court judges ruled.

The judges also said that even though it is in the public interest to have such a system for collection of data, it is however safe to have a platform that does not infringe on the rights of anyone.

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This led to the attachment of conditions to the digital listing. The conditions include stopping the collection of DNA and GPS information, which have been the core issue of contention in the row over the start of NIIMS. The government was also ordered not to compel anyone to submit to collection of the data, bar any person from accessing services or facilities because of not submitting their information or put any restrictions on any person.

The government was further barred from sharing or disseminating the data collected with any international organisations.

“The respondents are at liberty to proceed with collection of data. However, they shall not go against these conditions,” the judges said.

Notice of the listing was preceded by a change in law that allowed the State to collect data on Kenyans’ DNA and physical location of their homes, including satellite details during registration of persons.

Adults applying for documents such as IDs will be required to provide additional information about their location, including land reference number, plot number or house number, says the new law.

The government is also seeking to introduce Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates in the registration of persons, enabling the tracking of their location via satellite.

Before the law change, the State required citizens to only provide information about their place of residence and postal address.

On personal identification, the State has widened the requirements to include Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) in digital form, voice waves and ear lobe pattern.

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