Kenyan users are reporting on social media that they are being signed up as members of political parties in the country without their knowledge or consent via the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP).
Many are finding the developments baffling:
According to the Registrar of Political Parties (@ORPPKenya), I am a registered member of ANC. Eeerm, since when? Why? How? @anc_party how did I get on your membership roll and how do I get out? pic.twitter.com/KqcD53OBEH
— E. Chenze (@echenze) June 18, 2021
As of yet, there is no clear answer for why this is happening. Theories are running rampant on social media. Some users are claiming that information is being leaked via security breaches in Safaricom’s M-Pesa platform. Though this is a significantly far reach.
Techweez speculates that it may be due to Kenya’s lax data protection policies and historically “careless” handling of user information.
They write that it could be possible that hidden groups are accessing and recording user information on Kenya’s E-Citizen platform to increase the apparent reach of certain political parties. Notably, most users who are reporting registrations are being registered to the Jubilee Party and the Amani National Congress (ANC).
Though other parties are appearing for users as well, like the Orange Democratic Movement amongst others.
Techweez writes that the use of private data to wrongly record that individuals belong to certain political parties is not new in Kenya and that examples of this have occurred in the recent past as the country marks nearly two years since the Data Protection Bill was passed in 2019.
Considered a powerful platform created by the Jubilee Party, Kenya’s currently ruling party led by President Uhuru Kenyatta, E-Citizen is called “the gateway to all government services”.
The site allows Kenyans to access government services through mobile devices. Services including passport applications or booking a seat at a Huduma Centre, a government service delivery centre, for a function that requires a physical presence.
E-Citizen is also linked to services like accessing registration status for political parties. This may be where the issue is stemming from, but time will tell if this is a malfunction in the platform or a data breach.
Readers interested to see if their information has been used to register to a party without their consent can do so here. Note, only users already registered to E-Citizen can access the information.