Uhuru signs Data Protection Bill into law

President Uhuru Kenyatta. FILE PHOTO | NMG

President Uhuru Kenyatta has today signed into law the Data Protection Bill 2019 and in a separate session met visiting executives of Amazon Web Services (AWS).

AWS is an enterprise of the American e-commerce giant Amazon that offers cloud computing services.

The new data law establishes the office of the Data Commissioner and sets out the requirements for the protection of personal data processed by both public and private entities.

It further outlines key principles that will govern data processing, sets out the rights of data subjects and assigns duties to data controllers and data processors.

In addition to setting the conditions for the transfer of personal data outside Kenya, the Act provides for the exemptions to processing of data and outlines data handling offences and attendant penalties.

The Bill was presented to the President for signature at State House Nairobi by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.

Also present were National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, ICT CS Joe Mucheru, Attorney General Paul Kihara and State House Deputy Chief of Staff Njee Muturi.

The President's meeting with the Amazon Web Services executives led by Vice President Teresa Carlson was a follow up to a discussion the Head of State had with the group during his official visit to Washington last year.

During the meeting, the AWS Vice President applauded Kenya for the passage of the new data law and informed him of Amazon's plans to set up an "edge location" in Nairobi.

An edge location is where end users access services located on Amazon Web Services.

Ms Carlson said the new data law paves the way for the organization’s investment that will enable Nairobi to join other global cities as an edge location.

President Kenyatta welcomed the establishment of an edge location in the country by AWS and assured that Kenya has the requisite infrastructure and educated young population that will benefit from the business opportunities and jobs that will be created.

“I am delighted to welcome AWS’s investment in Kenya. The launch of Amazon CloudFront will put us in the forefront of accelerated innovation - enabling startups, enterprises and our government agencies to focus on building the best user experience,” the President said.

He added: “Kenya is an innovator in digital financial services in Africa. Having advanced cloud infrastructure in the country will support our ability to flourish as a nation and reach our potential as one of Africa’s fastest growing digital economies.”

The Head of State noted that the investment by Amazon will help strengthen Kenya’s position as a regional business hub.

“This is key for us especially now that we are going digital on almost everything. We are currently building the digital infrastructure and we welcome any support that we can get from you,” the President told the Amazon team.

Ms Carlson said her organization will also provide training in digital skills and help in the creation of quality jobs for the youth in Kenya.

The AWS cloud platform offers featured services to millions of customers including the fastest-growing startups, largest enterprises and leading government agencies.

Some of the benefits of the edge location provided by AWS include giving businesses and web application developers an easy and cost effective way to distribute data housed in Kenya to thousands of users with low latency and high data transfer speeds.

The service will allow businesses quick and reliable access to their information, which improves the quality of internet to the end user and help reduce the cost of transferring data.

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