Judge orders State to regularise Huduma Namba roll out

Huduma namba card

A woman displays her Huduma Namba card. 

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

The High Court on Thursday declared the government's rollout of Huduma Namba cards unconstitutional on grounds that no data protection safeguards were implemented by the Interior ministry.

Justice Jairus Ngaah has, however, gave the Interior ministry an opportunity to regularise the process by ordering that an impact assessment be done in relation to data collected from over 36 million Kenyans, many of whom have already collected their Huduma Cards.

Katiba Institute sued the Interior ministry last year seeking to block the rollout, arguing that no guarantees were given that Kenyans' data is safe from abuse.

"An order is hereby issued to bring into this honourable court to quash the government decision of November 18, 2020 to roll out Huduma Cards for being ultra vires of the Data Protection Act, 2019. An order of mandamus is hereby issued compelling the government to conduct a data impact assessment in accordance with section 31 of the Data Protection Act, 2019 before processing of data and rollout of the Huduma Cards," Justice Ngaah ruled.

The Interior ministry had argued that the Data Protection Act came into place before plans to rollout the Huduma Cards were launched.

But Justice Ngaah has ruled that the Data Protection Act should have been enacted retrogressively. This means that the Interior ministry should have complied with the Data Protection Act once it came into force.