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  • Writer's picturePeris Wambui

Validity of Data Subjects Giving Consent for Processing of Their Data in Kenya

Data consent in Kenya

In an increasingly connected world, the importance of data privacy and protection is paramount. In Kenya, data subjects are granted certain rights and protections under the law, which include the right to provide or withhold consent for the processing of their personal data.

This article delves into the validity and significance of data subjects giving consent for the processing of their personal data, as outlined in the Kenya Constitution and the relevant data protection laws.


Constitution of Kenya 2010 and Data Privacy


Kenya's Constitution, as promulgated in 2010, serves as the supreme law of the land and provides the foundation for data protection and privacy. Several key provisions within the Constitution uphold the rights of Kenyan citizens in relation to data protection:

1.    Right to Privacy (Article 31): This article of the Kenyan Constitution recognizes the right to privacy, safeguarding individuals from unauthorized or arbitrary interference with their privacy, family, home, or correspondence. This constitutional provision forms the bedrock for data protection, underscoring the importance of personal data privacy.

2.    Access to Information (Article 35): Article 35 establishes the right of access to information held by the State or any other person required to exercise or protect any right or fundamental freedom. It underscores the significance of transparency and access by data subjects to their personal data while ensuring it is handled responsibly.


Data Protection Laws in Kenya

Kenya has also enacted specific data protection laws that emphasize the importance of consent and provide a comprehensive framework for data protection:

1.    Data Protection Act, 2019: The Data Protection Act is a pivotal piece of legislation that outlines the various aspects of data protection in Kenya. The Act contains numerous provisions emphasizing the importance of obtaining valid consent from data subjects, including:

(a) Conditions of consent (Section 32): Section 32 of the Data Protection Act places great importance on obtaining explicit, informed, and unambiguous consent from data subjects before processing their data. Consent is a fundamental requirement for lawful data processing.

(b) Data Protection Principles (Section 25): The Act outlines key data protection principles, including data minimisation, purpose limitation, and data security, all of which are closely tied to obtaining and respecting data subjects' consent.

(c) Data Subject Rights (Section 26): The Act defines and recognizes the rights of data subjects, including the right to access, correct, and object to the processing of their data. Valid consent ensures that data subjects retain control over their information.

3. The Data Protection (Complaints Handling Procedure and Enforcement) Regulations

4. The Data Protection (General) Regulations. 

5. The Data Protection (Registration of Data Controllers and Data Processors) Regulations


Validity of Data Subjects Giving Consent

The validity of data subjects giving consent for the processing of their data is not just a procedural requirement, but also a fundamental principle of data protection in Kenya. The law recognizes that obtaining valid consent is central to ensuring that individuals retain control over their data.


1.    Explicit and Informed Consent:

Section 32 of the Data Protection Act underscores that consent must be explicit and informed. This means that data subjects must be provided with clear and easily understandable information about what their data will be used for, who will process it, and for how long.

Consent is only valid if individuals have a comprehensive understanding of the implications of providing or withholding it.


2.    Unambiguous Consent:

Unambiguous consent means that data subjects must provide an unequivocal indication of their willingness to allow the processing of their data. This ensures that there is no room for ambiguity or misunderstanding. It also emphasizes that consent should be given freely, without coercion or undue influence.


3.    Consent Withdrawal:

Data subjects in Kenya have the right to withdraw their consent at any time. Section 32 of the Data Protection Act explicitly recognizes this right. This further underscores the validity of consent, as individuals can change their minds or revoke their consent if they no longer wish to have their data processed for a particular purpose.


4.    Consent and Cross-Border Data Transfers:

When data is transferred across borders, obtaining valid consent becomes even more critical. Data subjects should be informed if their data will be transferred to another jurisdiction, as data protection laws may differ. Cross-border data transfers require an extra layer of scrutiny to ensure that consent is still valid and in accordance with the law.

Challenges and Concerns

While the legal framework in Kenya is clear on the importance of obtaining valid consent, challenges and concerns remain:


1.    Lack of Awareness:

Many individuals may not be fully aware of their rights regarding data protection and consent. Raising public awareness and educating citizens about their rights is crucial.


2.    Enforcement:

Ensuring that organizations and entities abide by the law and obtain valid consent can be challenging. Strong enforcement mechanisms are essential to hold non-compliant parties accountable.


3.    Informed Consent:

There is a need to ensure that consent processes are genuinely informative and that data subjects understand the implications of providing consent.


4.    Children's Data:

Safeguarding the data of minors and ensuring that their consent is valid is a particular concern, especially in the digital age.


Our Opinion

The validity of data subjects giving consent for the processing of their data is the cornerstone of data protection in Kenya. The Constitution and data protection laws underscore the importance of explicit, informed, and unambiguous consent. 

The requirement to obtain consent ensures that individuals have control over their data while fostering a culture of respect for privacy and data protection in Kenya. Public education and effective enforcement are key components in upholding the validity of consent and safeguarding the privacy and data rights of Kenyan citizens.

If you’d like to know more about how we can help you and your organisation become compliant with the provisions of the Data Protection Act in Kenya, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

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