Biometrics Demystified and the Committee on Communication, Information and Innovation

Recently, a text from a local telecommunications company inquired whether its subscribers knew that they could now enroll their voice so they could access various services securely and conveniently. This added a further dynamic to the on-going debate in several quarters on the accelerated adoption of biometrics in Kenya. Does Kenya have the necessary framework in place to safeguard the privacy and security of its citizens? The reality is, innovators will not wait for an optimal legal environment; with agile technologies, time is of the essence. But what are biometrics anyway? Whether it is voice or facial recognition, our researcher Francis Monyango has developed some engaging infographics to help a) demystify biometrics and b) trace the history of biometrics in Kenya. This accompanies our policy brief on forthcoming research and which our partner Privacy International published on their blog here.

At CIPIT we are also keenly following post-elections developments that we believe are pivotal to the development of an appropriate regulatory framework for data technologies to thrive.  Last week, Thursday 14th December, the National Assembly approved members to the Committee on Communication, Information and Innovation. This week, Wednesday 20th December, this Committee elected its chairperson and vice chairperson as follows:

  1. The Hon. William Kipkemoi Kisang, MP – Chairperson
  2. The Hon. George Macharia, MP – Vice-chairperson
  3. The Hon. Gathoni Wamuchomba, MP
  4. The Hon. Moses Wekesa Mwambua Mabonga, MP
  5. The Hon. Sylvanus Maritim, MP
  6. The Hon. Kawira Mwangaza, MP
  7. The Hon. Erastus Kivasu Nzioka, MP
  8. The Hon. Jonah Mburu Mwangi, MP
  9. The Hon. Liza Chelule Chepkorir, MP
  10. The Hon. John Kiarie Waweru, MP
  11. The Hon. Mwarwa Kemero Maisori Kitayama, MP
  12. The Hon. Annie Wanjiku Kibeh, MP
  13. The Hon. Mark Nyamitta, MP
  14. The Hon. Antony Oluoch, MP
  15. The Hon. Getrude Mbeyu, MP
  16. The Hon. Innocent Momanyi Obiri, MP
  17. The Hon. Joshua Kimilu, MP
  18. The Hon. Godffrey Osotsi, MP
  19. The Hon. Alfa Ondieki Miruka, MP

The foregoing ladies and gentlemen will be central to the development of the policy and regulatory framework on communication, information and innovation. Previously named the ICT Committee, we believe the new name reflects the widening mandate and perhaps recognition that technology is but one of the drivers of innovation.  Indeed, this is the best posture for a committee whose main challenge is the cliché: the law is unable to keep pace with technological innovation. We shall endeavor to call on this newly appointed Committee through its chair Hon. William Kisang, and his vice Hon. George Macharia, to re-initiate discussions on how best to regulate emerging data technologies.

  1. Biometric authentication technology
    […] ION, the past fortnight Parliament appointed the Committee on Communication, Information and Innovation.  I believe these are the people we should lobby with regards to reinstating the lapsed data protection bill.  You can see the membership of the committee and highlights of our ongoing research on the CIPIT blog here.  […]
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