Kenya has often been named as a conduit for illegal drugs. The country's National Authority for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA) has regularly raised concerns about the increasing number of young people getting addicted to hard drugs.

As per presentation by NACADA, in 2004 Kenya had one of the biggest drug seizures in Africa when authorities a 1,000 kilogrammes of cocaine. Added to that, from 2014 to 2018 Kenya was reported to be among the top 13 frequently mentioned countries of "origin, departure and transit of trafficking in cannabis; and was one of the main countries that heroine was trafficked along the southern route to Western and Central Europe."

With this background, there have been plans to amend Kenya's Narcotics, Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Bill to enhance penalties on the offenses relating to possession and trafficking in narcotics and psychotropic substances.

However, there is something unsettling in the proposed amendment.

Data collection and invasion of privacy

One of the proposed changes to the Bill is to require landlords to keep some sensitive data on their tenants. This includes the tenant's nationality and employment details. Failure to comply with this requirement would lead to a fine or even a jail term for the landlord.

This requirement is informed by the fact that many people engaged in trading illegal drugs have no known form of employment or business. They are also seen living in expensive properties and many times they have foreign connections or are foreigners.

However, this approach raises eyebrows.

Privacy concerns

There are serious privacy concerns with this proposed Bill, as well as questions on the effectiveness of the approach. Landlords will be required to do due diligence on their tenants, which may include confirming that the data provided is correct.

Will they require a letter from the employer?

What about the data being collected?

Do they have the capacity to do this, and how can Kenyans be assured that the data will not be abused?

What even raises more concern is that the proposal to have a tenant registry in the Bill was raised by the National Intelligence Services. If this is not about spying on citizens, what else could it be?

If this Bill is passed, people dealing in illegal drugs will likely find easier ways to circumvent this. The end result will be an unnecessary burden placed on landlords and citizens, at a cost of their privacy.

This should not be the case.

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