Complaining Kenyans have in the past week been taking to social media sharing their frustrations on how they found themselves registered as members of political parties without their consent. Public outroar on the gruesome breach of data privacy has led to a press release by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner on Friday 25th June. In her statement, Data Protection Commissioner Kassait Immaculate acknowledged receipt of over 200 filed complaints. These were from the public and urged those illegally registered to political parties to follow suit.
Kenya passed the Data Protection Act in 2019 which is key legislation in securing citizens’ rights by ensuring data privacy, transparency, security, and general ethical handling. Part VIII of the Act is on enforcement provisions that enable aggrieved citizens to access legal support. First, complaints are presented to the Data Commissioner either in writing or orally. Oral complaints are recorded in writing for the Commissioner to address them as per the Law.
To file a complaint, an aggrieved citizen should have proof in either book, document, record, or article relevant to the case which the person is not prevented from disclosing. They are also required to avail themselves for an examination or provide a written statement under oath with complaint details. In the case of illegal registration to political parties, individuals with e-citizen accounts were able to access confirmation documents on whether they belonged to any political parties. This can also be availed to the Data Commissioner electronically. Individuals must give truthful information failure to which is considered a committed offense.
Complaint-filing Time Span
All filed complaints are subject to investigation and finalization within 90 days. On confirmation, enforcement is given a go-ahead by the Commissioner specifying the measures to be taken implemented within twenty-one days with room for appeal in the High Court. Failure to comply with the enforcement statement makes one liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding five million shillings or to a maximum of a 2-year term, or to both.
Penalty after Complaint-filing
Citizens who suffer damage (financial loss and damage not involving financial loss, including distress) due to a contravention of the Act’s requirements are eligible for compensation from the data controller or the processor.