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    Op-Ed at Business Daily Africa: Kenya urgently needs privacy protection laws

    An opinion column at Business Daily Africa urges the passage of privacy protection legislation in Kenya:

    Who keeps your secrets? Have you ever paused to ask yourself how much confidential information about you or your business is “out there”? You probably imagine there is not much. However, let me paint for you a scenario.

    You wake up in the morning and make a few personal and business calls from your mobile phone. Your calls are monitored and details stored in the data base of your mobile phone service provider. On your way to work, you pass through your ATM to withdraw some money and print an e-statement. The bank’s system records your transactions. […]

    Shortly thereafter, you receive a reference check about a former intern. Her HR file shows that during the few short months when she interned with you, she was constantly away from the office due to a congenital illness. You feel obliged to inform her prospective employer and candidly proceed to do so. […]

    This may sound surreal, but this is a true reflection of how much confidential information we leave behind us on a day to day basis, often without even realising it. Such information can easily fall into the wrong hands. It can also be used to your detriment. […]

    The important question is, does the law ensure that your confidential data is given adequate protection?

    Regrettably, there is no specific statute in Kenya dealing with data protection or the right of privacy. Kenya adopts the common law of England which was in force in 1897.

    Unfortunately, courts have held that there is no common law right to privacy thereby leaving a gaping void in Kenya as far as data protection laws are concerned. […]

    But there are a few sectoral statutes which have scanty provisions on data protection. Banks and financial institutions have a general duty of confidentiality although this may be derogated from in specific circumstances. […]

    The need for privacy laws to deal with the protection and preservation of the privacy of individuals and businesses and the manner in which data may be dealt with therefore continues to grow.

    It is important that the Kenyan authorities move to enact privacy laws to regulate the type of information which may be collected and how this information may be used and stored so as to protect the privacy of persons.

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