As we mark Data Privacy Day 2024 commemorated annually on 28 January, we call upon everyone to embrace the theme ‘Take Control of Your Data’. Today presents us with a unique opportunity to embark on a journey to take back our power and assert our authority over our digital footprint and personal data. Securing our privacy rights is of paramount importance in our ever-evolving digital realm.
Indeed, the protection of privacy and personal data is not just a legal obligation, but also a fundamental human right that requires our collective commitment and diligence. Therefore, adhering to data protection principles when collecting and processing personal data is key to safeguarding against its arbitrary and unlawful data use, and ultimately the protection of both individuals and society.
As we mark Data Privacy Day, KICTANet notes the impact that advancements in Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) have brought by transforming how we connect, communicate, and conduct our daily lives. However, these advancements present new challenges to privacy and tensions between technological innovation and privacy.
In Kenya, we have witnessed significant threats to personal and organizational data. These include digital surveillance, data breaches, cyber-attacks, intrusive data collection practices, and the ever-growing complexities of new technologies such as artificial intelligence
As we reflect on the state of privacy in Kenya, KICTANet has continued to champion greater awareness and respect for privacy rights. Through spearheading engagement on privacy and data protection, we have provided crucial platforms to stakeholders. For example, KICTANet held various convenings with Meta targeting civil society and young people to enable them to engage and learn about privacy on the social media platform’s applications. Moreover, it also convened the Kenya Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and several community roundtables to discuss topical issues around privacy, cybersecurity practice and artificial intelligence in Kenya.
Moreover, through our concerted efforts, we have continued to build capacity and raise awareness of privacy and data protection. Privacy has remained a central topic in the annual Kenya School of Internet Governance (KESIG), which has since inception trained at least 400 persons. Likewise, the Tatua Digital Resilience Centre remains a testament to our commitment to equipping social justice organizations with the tools to securely navigate the evolving digital landscape. Further, KICTANet developed a privacy podcast series bringing together various experts to discuss emerging issues on privacy. We have also continued to publish on our social media, blogs, podcasts, and video features as part of our online awareness campaigns to promote privacy and cyber hygiene.
During the Privacy Day 2024, KICTANet participated in the commemoration of the event which was held in Kisumu. KICTANet teams participated in panel sessions during the event and also showcased our work in the stand over two days between January 25 and 26 2024.
KICTANet continues to engage in policy advocacy and has contributed to the development of privacy legislation in Kenya and at the global level. Further, the organization has remained steadfast in promoting inclusive and privacy-respecting digital identity programmes globally, including Kenya’s Maisha Namba. Also, during Kenya’s August 2022 elections, KICTANet assembled a team of tech observers and highlighted key privacy issues to the election management body. Also, KICTANet research, through various policy briefs, reports and guidebooks continues to focus on privacy and their impact on society, while also emphasizing gender and intersectionality.
More importantly, as more stakeholders adopt digital technologies to power their systems and processes, we remain concerned by the growing risks to privacy in the digital economy. KICTANet is cognizant of its mission to promote multistakeholder approaches to address the risks presented by emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, digital lending, digital currencies, cloud technologies, digital identity and other biometric data collection programmes.
In conclusion, as we commemorate Privacy Day, we call upon all stakeholders – academia, business, civil society, government, media, and the technical community – to join us in celebrating the strides that we have made to promote privacy and data protection. Further, we urge all to recommit to building a digital future where individuals have full control over their personal information, and organizations take greater care of the personal information and data under their custody. We hope all stakeholders can contribute to this transformative journey and shape the digital landscape to one where privacy and data protection remain critical cornerstones for society.