Citizens have a right to privacy and government has an obligation to protect and offer security to its citizen. The two are correlated and cannot be applied independent of each other which gives rise to a peculiar ecosystem whose baseline currency is trust.
With the recent spate of violence meted on Kenyan soil by whichever evil force, we are forced to rethink the issue of privacy in relation to personal identifying data vis a vis the security that we feel the government should offer as a default.
Present a Kenyan with the proposition that the government or anyone for that matter can figure out a little bit about your day to day life, such as your present location and the feedback will not surprise. Yet, every day we leave digital footprints as we traverse the interwebs whether its uploading photos rich with metadata to your favorite social network, geo-located tweets or checking into your favorite lunch spot or club. Notwithstanding we give valuable data to our favorite pizza place, down to the exact location of where we live for the purpose of convenience. Some popular financial services used by millions aggregate and mine data from up to six different sources. We converse on our phones in public places and matatus but cringe at the thought of someone else listening on the line.
It is my opinion that privacy is overrated in this day and age of convenience and we are better placed ensuring that the data collected by corporations and government is secure and leveraged only for legitimate value adding purposes, with real-time visibility to the individual citizen on the use of their data.
Do I think the government can handle this role alone? Not in the current social, economic and political environment. Perhaps a different take on defense contracting will work with a consortium of local technology companies staffed with the best minds the country has got to offer with inbuilt maker checker roles. With the obvious attendant background check and psycho testing, this may go a long way to augment government efforts to meet their obligatory role. Sustainability will be delivered in a dance with private sector, who understand the costs of independent and siloed data repositories. Layered access will deliver the business intelligence payload that will drive service delivery for legitimate business, consumers will be and feel comfortable and more in control of their personal data, and government will improve its “collective gut” hopefully stay one step ahead of the many ever present threats from both within and without our borders.
Globally there are examples of success and while it presents a difficult undertaking it will be worth our while to take a swipe.