Kenya passes data security law crucial for technology investments

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday accepted a data security law that complies with European Union legal criteria as it seems to strengthen investment in its own information technology industry.

FILE PHOTO: Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta signals into law the Finance Bill 2019 in State House in Nairobi, Kenya November 7, 2019. Presidential Press Service/Handout through REUTERS

The East African country has drawn overseas firms with inventions like Safaricom’s M-Pesa cellular money solutions, but the absence of safeguards in managing private information has held it back in its entire potential, officials say.

“Kenya has joined the international community concerning data security criteria,” Joe Mucheru, minister for information, communication and technology, told Reuters.

The law sets out limitations on the personally identifiable information obtained by companies and government entities could be managed, stored and shared, ” the authorities said.

Mucheru stated it complies with the EU’s General Data Protection Legislation that came into effect in May 2018 and stated an independent office will explore data infringements.

Businesses like Kenya Airways and tourist resorts will need to comply when managing personal data from customers, Mucheru stated, since will phone-based creditors like Safaricom, which amasses private data through services provided jointly with local banks.

Amazon Web Services, a part of the Amazon group, said on Friday it will put up a part of its own cloud infrastructure in Kenya, including it had been supported by the law. It didn’t offer a value for your new investment.

Teresa Carlson, vice president of Amazon Web Services, stated the new legislation paves the way for the organization’s investment in Nairobi, according to a government news release.

Individuals violating the law face a maximum fine of 3 million shillings ($29,283) or 2 years in prison, a duplicate of the legislation seen by Reuters revealed.

“It’ll return to execution and enforcement however, we’ve been waiting for it for seven decades so it’s a beginning,” explained Nanjira Sambuli, a senior policy director in the World Wide Web Foundation, a internet access advocacy group.

A deficiency of information protection laws has also hampered the government’s attempts to digitize identity documents for taxpayers.

The enrollment, which the authorities said would increase its supply of services, suffered a setback this season once the exercise was contested in court.

“The absence of some data privacy law was an massive lacuna from Kenya’s digital rights arena,” explained Nanjala Nyabola, author of a book on information technologies and democracy in Kenya.

Additional reporting by Omar Mohammed; Tracking by Jason Neely

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