ICT industry applauds Kenya’s data protection law

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(L_R) Prof Daniel Tarus, DVC Finance, Moi University, Louis Otieno, Director Barclays Bank of Kenya, George Njuguna, CIO Safaricom PLC, Dr. Gilbert Mugenda Ag. Assistant Director Innovation, Research & Development, Communications Authority and Robert Nyamu, Partner and Digital Solutions, Financial Services and Risk Advisory Leader, EY in East Africa

The ICT fraternity has today thrown their support behind the recently signed Kenya’s Data Protection Bill terming it a good regulation policy framework for the industry.

Signed by President Uhuru Kenyatta two weeks ago, the Data Protection Act will put safeguards against commercialization and misuse of data without approval from the data commissioner and the data subjects.

Speaking at the ongoing three-day CIO100 Symposium & Awards at the Lake Naivasha Resort, Robert Nyamu, Partner and Digital Solutions, Financial Services and Risk Advisory, EY (Ernst Young), East Africa, said the law was timely despite it taking long period to be accented into law five years after South Africa adopted their own General Data Protection Regulation Act.

“This law is good for the country even though we are having it five years after countries such as South Africa has implemented their GDPR.” Robert Nyamu

Nyamu called for the expeditious drafting of the guidelines and regulations that will support the implementation of the data protection law.

“There is need for the government to fast-track the composition of the guidelines and regulations around the data protection law by engaging the industry on their sentiments. This will enable the businesses to adhere to the Act for purposes of propelling the digital solution ecosystem,” avered Nyamu

Louis Otieno, former Corporate Affairs Director, Microsoft4Africa, said the data protection law would help promote trust between businesses and data subjects. However, self-regulation will be necessary for the organizations who are the principal data holders.

On the other hand, the industry leaders called for fair taxation of the digital economy to avoid crippling ICT as an enabler to the economy.

“ICT is an enabler. However, when you create a deterrent to create growth in the business environment through bad taxation, you are curtailing and discouraging innovation,” said Louis Otieno.

Otieno also chastised policies that discouraged ease of doing business through heavy taxation compared to the rest of the world.

“Policies in Africa or lack of it has made doing business difficult compared to the rest of the world. For instance, India that has over one billion people just as Africa has created an enabling environment for investors especially when it comes to ICT. We do not need to punish technology but create favourable policies that will spur the growth of the digital economy.” Adding: “Taxation of the digital economy should be done in manner that it will not stifle ICT growth or create a capital flight or investment.”

In Uganda, the punitive social media regulation law saw the drop of internet users by three million after the government called for taxation in the use of social media platforms.

The ICT sector champions further called for removal of punitive laws that are currently in the social media regulation bill across the region. While Rwanda, may have on the phase value done well in formulating frameworks to enhance growth of ICT, it is today grappling with issues that relate with creating opportunities for investments.

Laws such as requisition of licenses by bloggers, which impedes on the freedom of expression as well as taxation of WhatsApp and Facebook group administrators.

However, in situations where admins are involved in criminal activities the law should take its action:

“Communication Authority should remove the clause on the social media regulation bill that requires bloggers to pay fees to acquire a license to operate. This is counterproductive to the business ecosystem,” concluded Nyamu.

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