By Jaaziyah Satar
“In a global data market, the worst-case scenario eventually becomes the standard for all of us.”
The Centre of Intellectual Property and Technology (CIPIT) had the honour of hosting a Global Data Justice seminar on the 18thof February 2020 at Strathmore University. The talk was moderated by Linnet Taylor, Assistant Professor of Data Ethics, Law and Policy at the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology and Society (TILT). Linnet introduced Global Data Justice – a project that is geared towards that understanding different worldwide perspectives on what constitutes just treatment through data technologies.
The conversation steered towards the Huduma Namba conundrum; those in attendance were asked to share their concerns about the Huduma Namba process.
These concerns ranged from privacy concerns, to digital insecurity concerns – the website and information on the website could be easily compromised. The way in which data is governed and protected on a local level is through a “counting” system; for example, the Huduma Namba process where the government digitally collects citizen’s information. But this is countered by data activists who state that the collection of digital data is against the rights of a free person.
Data justice comprises of:
- Privacy (protection)
- Fair information practices principles
- Research ethics
- Protection of human rights
- Data protection
Some of the issues arising from a data justice perspective include transparency, visibility,and non-discrimination..
For the seminar participants, their understanding of data justice ranged from personal experiences with e-government to global scandals on social networking sites. A summary of the discussion:
- The fact that it is no secret that our society is becoming increasingly digital; digital rights, a concept that did not previously exist, is being included in national and international laws. Cybercrimes and general cyber insecurity have also escalated.
- Facebook users being exposed to cyber attackers/hackers to Facebook selling user data to third parties. In a situation such as this an issue of Conflict of Laws arises due to the fact that there is no singular entity that can regulate these companies on data protection or data justice.
- In Kenya the Right to Privacy can be waived when it is a question of national security– if there is even a small possibility that a terrorist attack may occur and waiving a citizen/resident’s right to privacy is necessary to collect certain information for the good of national security then data protection will be considered a minor issue.
- The concern that arose amongst many Kenyan on the way personal information was being considered, used and even traded as though it was public information; that data protection was not being respected and encouraged. This was also compounded by the role data governance played in politics, which in turn influenced the position of the State towards data protection.
- Historical issues where due to the past ethnic clashes that have occurred in Kenya some attendees felt unsafe sharing information such as their ethnicity, class, gender, marital status and political beliefs.
From the seminar, it was apparent that data justice is a conversation that will be topical in Kenya for years to come. Many questions are still unanswered: what is the future of data protection on the African continent? Were projects such as the Huduma Namba beneficial in the long run? Or would the data protection fight around us simply crash and burn?