The Kenyan Data Protection and Privacy Act 2019, was signed into law last week. This GDPR-like law is the first data protection law in Kenyan history, and marks a major step forward in the protection of Kenyans’ privacy. Mozilla applauds the Government of Kenya, the National Assembly, and all stakeholders who took part in the making of this historic law. It is indeed a huge milestone that sees Kenya become the latest addition to the list of countries with data protection related laws in place; providing much-needed safeguards to its citizens in the digital era.
Strong data protection laws are critical in ensuring that user rights are protected; that companies and governments are compelled to appropriately handle the data that they are entrusted with. As part of its policy work in Africa, Mozilla has been at the forefront in advocating for the new law since 2018. The latest development is most welcome, as Mozilla continues to champion the 5 policy hot-spots that are key to Africa’s digital transformation.
Mozilla is pleased to see that the Data Protection Act is consistent with international data protection standards, through its approach to placing users’ rights at the centre of the digital economy. They also applaud the creation of an empowered data protection commission with a high degree of independence from the government. The law also imposes strong obligations placed on data controllers and processors. It requires them to abide by principles of meaningful user consent, collection limitation, purpose limitation, data minimization, and data security.
It is commendable that the law has maintained integrity throughout the process, and many of the critical comments Mozilla submitted on the initial Data Protection Bill (2018) have been reflected in the final act. The suggestions included the requirement for robust protections of data subjects with the rights to rectification, erasure of inaccurate data, objection to processing of their data, as well as the right to access, and to be informed of the use of their data; with the aim of providing users with control over their personal data and online experiences.
Mozilla continues to be actively engaged in advocating for strong data privacy and protection in the entire African region, where fewer than 30 countries have a data protection law. Considering that the region has the world’s fastest growth in internet use over the past decade, the continent is poised for great opportunities around accessing the internet. However, without the requisite laws in place, many users, many of whom are accessing the internet for the first time, will be put at risk.