President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday signed into law the Data Protection Bill 2019 effectively creating the Data Commissioner post in government.

The bill was presented to the President by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and Majority Leader Aden Duale and the signing was witnessed by Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, ICT CS Joe Mucheru, Attorney General Paul Kihara and State House Deputy Chief of Staff Njee Muturi.

"The new data law establishes the office of the Data Commissioner and sets out the requirements for the protection of personal data processed by both public and private entities.

Data Commissioner post created after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed Data Protection Bill to law
Data Commissioner post created after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed Data Protection Bill to law

"It further outlines key principles that will govern data processing, sets out the rights of data subjects and assigns duties to data controllers and data processors. 

"In addition to setting the conditions for the transfer of personal data outside Kenya, the Act provides for the exemptions to processing of data and outlines data handling offences and attendant penalties," a statement from State House read in part.

What Data Protection Act 2019 means for Kenyans

The new law recommends stiff penalties for individuals and companies that are found to be violating the privacy of Kenyan citizens' data.

"A person who commits an offence under this Act for which no specific penalty is provided or who otherwise contravenes this Act shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding three million shillings or to an imprisonment term not exceeding 10 years," the law outlines.

Personal data is defined as, "...any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person".

DPP Noordin Haji had opposed the bill saying that it would render the National Intelligence Service (NIS) illegal.

Data Commissioner post created after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed Data Protection Bill to law
Data Commissioner post created after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed Data Protection Bill to law