Right to privacy in the wake of mobile money transfers in Kenya: is the data protection bill a step in the right direction?
Gichana, Eric Wagura
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Mobile Money Transfer has, in just a little over ten years, transformed the lives of millions of Kenyans in addition to greatly improving the economy of the county. Mobile money penetration in Kenya currently stands at 68% of the adult economy. This has not only made Kenyans the most banked people in Africa but has also greatly contributed to improving the lifestyles of many Kenyans who don't live within urban areas. The success of mobile money in Kenya is greatly backed by the rise in mobile phone penetration and advancement in technology. This success is however greatly threatened owing to the fact that the telecommunication companies operating mobile money services do so in an environment where there is no clear law or regulation on data protection. A mobile money environment is synonymous with generation of big data. Big data here includes large and complex sets of data that arc usually collected by the telecommunication companies offering mobile money services. This data includes, but is not limited to information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person by which this person can be identified, directly or indirectly in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors specific to his/her physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity. If left unprotected, such information is vulnerable to potential abuses and misuse. A data protection framework is thus not only vital to guarantee right to information privacy of individuals but also to necessary to ensure the continued success of mobile money as such a framework would give individuals increased confidence in using mobile money services. This paper thus outlines the need to have in place a clear data protection regulatory framework in Kenya that clearly outlines the processes of data collection, retrieval, processing, storage, use and disclosure of personal data associated with mobile money transfers. The paper does this by discussing the need for privacy protection with regards to mobile money transfers, critically examining the Data Protection Bill 2013, and lastly looking at best practice from Ghana.