Mucheru clashes with senators over data Bill

ICT CS Joe Mucheru when he appeared before the Senate ICT Committee Chaired by Gideon Moi to deliberate on the protection of Customer data by telecommunications companies at Parliament on Wednesday 19/06/19. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

A meeting between senators and Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru ended prematurely yesterday.

This was after it emerged that the Government had decided to introduce a Bill that seeks to protect personal data from misuse in the National Assembly. The Bill is similar to one that was introduced by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi.

The Bill by Gideon proposes that an agency which collects personal data must take the necessary steps to ensure the integrity of information in its possession or control is guaranteed.

It stipulates that unlawful access or unauthorised processing of the stored data is criminal.

Gideon's Bill seeks formation of a special commission to oversee implementation of the Act. It further proposes that the same agency be responsible for enforcement of the legislation.

Progressive Bill

Mucheru, who appeared before the Senate Committee on ICT, was hard-pressed to explain why government had decided to reintroduce Data Protection Bill when the ministry had agreed with the version developed by the Senate.

Last month, Mucheru, while giving his submissions before the same House team, termed the Bill progressive, and said it was in line with the development agenda of the Government.

Yesterday, however, he changed tune, and said the Attorney General Kihara Kariuki had directed that the version approved by the Cabinet needed to be processed by the National Assembly.

“The Attorney General directed that the approved Bill by the Cabinet needs the input of the National Assembly. I know this is contrary to what we agreed and I seek more time to go and consult,” said Mucheru.

His explanation elicited sharp reactions from the senators led by Gideon, the committee's chairperson.

The legislators asked the CS to advise the AG against taking the Bill, that had been handled by the Senate, to the National Assembly.

Money Bill

Senators Ledama ole Kina (Narok), Enock Wambua (Kitui) and Halake Abshiro (nominated) said they would not accept the new development.

Mr Kina wondered why the National Assembly needed to be ‘consulted’ yet the agreed document was not a money Bill.

“It’s extremely unfortunate and I am disappointed. We will keep our faith and trust in what we discussed and agreed with you CS. I give you time to consult and get back to us,” said Gideon as he adjourned the meeting.