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New digital ID cards safe and secure, state affirms

Immigration and Citizen Services Principal Secretary Julius Bitok. PHOTO | Courtesy

The Ministry of Interior and Administration of National Government has said biometric information collected from Kenyans during the migration to new digital identity cards will not be handled by third parties.

Immigration and Citizen Services Principal Secretary Julius Bitok has said the migration from the current second generation to third generation National Digital IDs also known as Maisha Card will allow Kenyans to access a wide range of e-citizen services and reduce cases of forgery the ID in use is prone to.

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The new digital ID card which contains a microchip will be issued from October 2, 2023 and will hold biometric information such as age, sex, county, finger prints and face of a citizen allowing them to access more than 7000 services available online.

“We have been able to comply with all requirements including data protection and impact assessment as required by the Data Protection Act,” said Bitok.

Besides the physical ID, there will also be a virtual copy of the same which citizens can use to access various services in absence of the physical copy. According to the developers, Kenyans will also be able to get immediate notifications of their IDs whenever it is used in other instances giving them control of their data.

Currently, there are more than 32 million ID cards which have been issued with the exercise now targeting full transition from the current one even as Bitok gave assurances that the process will not be forceful.

“All Kenyans will require have this third generation ID called Maisha Card. As much as we are not very stout we are saying it is very critical for Kenyans to have this card,” added Bitok.

The government has also developed a Unique Personal Identifier dubbed Maisha Namba which will be issued to all newborns in the country.

The 14-digit lifetime number will be the same assigned to an individual on their birth certificate, school admission, and Kenya Revenue Authority PIN, NSSF, NHIF and death certificate numbers.

“The percentage of registration of newborns in Kenya now is 80pc but with technology we plan to push it to 100pc. This Maisha Namba will be a number we issue newborns and it will be their number throughout their lifetime,” said Bitok.

Interior ministry has also established a Master Population Register and National Database which will be accessible to KRA, banks and other institutions and minimize fraud and crime in the country.

The master register will contain information of citizens above 18, foreign nationals in the country, passport holders and refugees who reside in the country.

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