Kenya Signs Data Protection Laws, Gears for Tech Investments

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the data protection law last Friday, November 8, 2019. The EU legal standard-compliant law came into fruition as the nation gears itself for more tech investments.

The legislation is reportedly fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation set by the European Union, notes Quartz Africa. Under it, agencies and government firms are to abide by certain restrictions when it comes to data gathering, storing, and sharing.

Violators of the law will be fined up to 3 million shillings or equivalent to $29,283. Besides this, offices and government agencies who infringe upon the law will be investigated by an independent office. Violators may also face a two-year prison sentence.

Kenya Data Protection Law

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More than this, Quartz Africa says the Kenyan legislation addressed the issues following calls of increase data protection. In select East African nations, including Kenya, fintech innovations and digital lending apps have come under fire after unethical practices. Some industry lenders gain unauthorized access to an applicant’s personal data, including calls, bank balances, and many more.

Other concerns expressed by the public include huge Silicon Valley companies having the ability to collect data, states Quartz Africa. These platforms include social media platform Facebook, messaging platform WhatsApp, and Google.

According to Reuters, Kenya’s approval of the law comes as the nation continues to garner interest from foreign investors. One of the nation’s leading fintech firms – Safaricom’s M-Pesa mobile money – serves as a gateway for investments in the country. However, Kenyan officials say the lack of data security and protection have refrained from international clients from investing.

As increased attention towards these cases arises, the Kenyan government heeded the call for its own data protection laws. Based on the report of Quartz Africa, legislation plays a huge factor in a number of aspects. Apart from boosting investments in the country’s technological sector, the statute also aims for overall social protection.

Following the issuance of the bill, Amazon Web Services supposedly confirmed its plans in setting up shop in Kenya. Amazon’s intended expansion in Kenya is part of the cloud computing provider’s plan to increase its reach within the continent. While it confirmed the investment in Kenya, Amazon Web Services did not provide a monetary value for the venture.

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In line with the new law, Reuters states that Kenya Airways and other tourist hotels and accommodations need to follow suit. Phone-based lending institutions and other similar businesses – such as Safaricom – are also held accountable under the law.

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