The High Court has quashed the decision by the state to roll out Huduma Namba cards, ruling that it was illegal.

Justice Jairus Ngaah on Thursday said the state erred by not conducting a data protection impact assessment before rolling out the cards.

“An order is hereby issued to bring into this honourable court to quash the government decision of November 18, 2020 to roll out Huduma cards for being ultra vires of the data protection act 2019,” the court ruled.

The judge has further ordered the government to carry out the impact assessment before rolling out the cards.

“Order of mandamus is hereby issued compelling the government to conduct a data protection impact assessment in accordance with section 31 of the Data Protection Act before processing of data and rolling out the Huduma cards,” Judge Ngaah ordered.

In the case, Katiba Institute moved to court last year challenging the decision by the state to roll out Huduma Namba cards without carrying out the data protection impact assessment.

According to the act, “Where the resulting operation is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of the data subject, by virtue of its nature scope context, and purposes, a data controller or data processor, prior to the processing conduct an impact assessment.”

The court, however, noted that a plea which sought to have the Huduma number roll out stopped is of no use since the government has already rolled out the issuance of the cards.

Under Huduma Namba, the State combined all vital documents including the national ID, passport, driving licence, National Social Security Fund and the National Hospital Insurance Fund numbers. The Huduma Number registration required a photo, information about themselves, their parents or guardians, place of birth, phone number, e-mail address, physical and permanent residence and marital status.

Data collected through the Huduma Namba registration will be stored in the Integrated Population Registration System — the central location for easy electronic access by institutions, including private corporations that provide crucial and sensitive services.

Thousands of Kenyans have already received their Huduma Cards. Despite the court ruling, the Interior ministry has been given an opportunity to regularise the rollout.

The Huduma Cards have set the taxpayer back Sh10.6 billion.

The Interior ministry collected data of over 36 million Kenyans for the Huduma Namba and Cards rollout.

According to Government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna, 11.2 million Huduma cards have been processed, but only 6.5 million have been collected.

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