State admits Huduma Numba information will be shared without consent

Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho takes an oath before testifying at Milimani court yesterday. [George Njunge, Standard]

The Government yesterday admitted that information gathered during Huduma number registration will be shared with its agencies even without notifying the persons concerned.

At the tail-end of the Huduma number form, there was a disclaimer in which Kenyans ticked that they understand their information may be provided to an authorised Government agency or agencies. There was no option of disagreeing in the form.

Although the Government at the time insisted that it was just creating a master register for Kenyans, Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho yesterday revealed information gathered will be shared whenever a Government agency requires it.

Nubian community

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The PS was being questioned in a case filed by the Nubian community and Kenya National Humans Right Commission before High Court judges Weldon Korir, Pauline Nyamweya and Mumbi Ngugi.

He said that the National Integrated Information Management System will be used for, among other things, tracing persons involved in crime.

Mr Kibicho explained if an option to disagree was included in the form and people opted for it, then it would mean the Government would be breaking the law.

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The PS was put to task as to why the Government never disclosed whether the information captured would be used for national security.

“Dr Kibicho, you said that this person is required to understand that his information could be provided to an authorised agency. This is actually asking for consent that the information can go to another agency, correct?” asked Nubian community lawyer Yussuf Bashir.

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“So long as that agency is authourised,” Kibicho replied.

Kibicho also told the court that the current definition of biometrics, as used in Huduma number project, allows the Government to take even DNA. 

The PS was hard-pressed to explain the definition of the biometrics and also on whether the Government intended to collect new information. 

He, however, denied that the Government intends to collect DNA, capture people’s irises and earlobes as part of unique identifiers. 

Senior lawyer Martha Karua had asked the PS whether the Government intended to collect new information.

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Another contention before the court was about the question on how much land one owned, National Hospital and Insurance Fund (NHIF) and employment information. On this, Kibicho told the court that it was not initially the intention of the Government to ask for such information.

However, he said, Agriculture, Health and Industrialisation ministries asked an inter-ministerial committee which was spearheading the project to include the questions as they too intended to individually gather the same.

He was also asked about the law under which Huduma Number exercise was being carried out.

New regulations

According to Kibicho, the Government relied on the Registration of Persons Act to roll out the Sh9 billion project.

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Although Kibicho admitted the Huduma Number exercise was new in the country, he denied that it required new regulations in place to roll it out.

It emerged that there is a Huduma Number Bill in Parliament. The contention on the new law was that Huduma Number exercise was carried out without any law in place.

Kibicho was also questioned on public participation. He told the court that the Government used, among other people, chiefs to engage Kenyans on the project.

The other tussle in court was on application of Section 9A Registration of Persons Act in the exercise. This section dictates that a person who is 18 years should be registered.

However, the Government went on a spree of registering even minors.

Kibicho claimed that his ministry relied on an executive order to record details from minors.

The case continues today.

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GovernmentKaranja KibichoNubian communityHuduma Namba