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Court to rule on Huduma Namba on Thursday

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Court to rule on Huduma Namba on Thursday

 Huduma Namba
Kenyans register for the National Integrated Identification Management System, popular as Huduma Namba, in May. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NMG 

The High Court will on Thursday morning deliver a judgement on the contentious National Integrated Identity Management Systems (Niims), commonly known as Huduma Namba.

The Nubian Rights Forum and Kenya Human Rights Commission sued the government over the platform, aimed at digitising and centralising the vital records of citizens and foreigners, saying Kenya lacks laws or policy on data protection.

They said Niims would violate people’s rights to privacy.

The government has, however, defended the system saying it would ensure adequate planning and enhance service delivery.

Interior PS Karaja Kibicho told a three-judge bench that the platform is a key decision-making component in the implementation of the service delivery.

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The PS told judges Pauline Nyamweya, Mumbi Ngugi and Weldon Korir that Niims would ensure availability of accurate, reliable and comprehensive population registration database containing civil status of the entire resident population.

He denied that Niims involved the collection of DNA as claimed, although he said it would be crucial in certain circumstances such as prevention of crimes like terrorism and identification of bodies where other all other biometrics are destroyed or unavailable.

During the voluntary national registration exercise, which was conducted in April, the government managed to capture the data of about 38 million people, at a cost Sh9.6 billion.

Dr Kibicho said Niims implementation was partly to actualise Kenya’s commitment to the African Union regarding digitisation, harmonisation and registration of systems to promote efficiency in service delivery.

The establishment of the National Population Register, containing information of all residents, will serve as a central reference for all population registration systems.

An expert witness, Anand Venkatanatayanan, told the judges that there is no guarantee that their information, including personal emails, are secure under the system and that the infrastructure behind Niims is bound to fail as it is prone to leaks.

Opponents to the system read malice and accuse government of being dishonest on the true intentions of Huduma Namba.

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