Thursday, March 12, 2015

New Digital Registry To Limit Identity Theft, Catch Aliens

The government has launched a national registry that could help minimise identity fraud by integrating personal information databases held by all State agencies.

The registry, expected to be operational by March next year, is expected to ease verification of individuals’ details and help catch and deter fraudsters and illegal immigrants.

The Integrated Population Registration System (IPRS) unveiled on Wednesday by President Uhuru Kenyatta will record Kenyan citizen’s details at birth and over their lifetime, periodically updating their digital files with copies of their documentation.

The government hopes the new system will help in nabbing identity thieves and fraudsters and protect the country from the recent wave of insecurity, crimes that have been blamed on the lack of an organised central citizenry database.

The IPRS will also be used to clean up the election registry by automatically erasing the names of deceased Kenyans who have in past elections been illegally registered as voters.

“Our civil data was contained in old manual systems maintained under different agencies held by different institutions,” said Mr Kenyatta directing all State agencies to connect to the system by March 2016.

“Anyone desiring information on an individual has to navigate huge volumes of manual data, making verification and due diligence processes difficult. This hampers the capacity of stakeholders to detect or prevent fraud, impersonation and other criminal activities.”

The new registry was developed a year ago and has since then been tested by institutions like KCB Group (using it for their mobile money platform) and City Hall (for their e-wallet initiative).

When a newborn is registered, their birth certificate data will be fed into the IPRS system, which will allocate the child an 11-digit code that will remain their unique identifier for life.

Their file will continually be updated with digital copies of documents like their secondary and primary school certificates as they attain them and national identity card when they hit 18 years.

Copies of the individual’s Personal Identification Number (PIN), National Social Security Fund and National Hospital Insurance Fund cards, marriage certificates, driving licences as well as their passports will also be fed into the system.

George Anyango, the IPRS Director, said the system has already documented one million newborns while details of another 17 million citizens aged below 18 years will be uploaded in six months.

The details of 24 million Kenyans who have ID cards have also been fed into the system.

“When State and private agencies connect to the IPRS system, they will be able to pull the information on an individual in real time and be able to compare what is being presented to them with the digital records,” said Mr Anyango.

The IPRS system will be connected to the smart national identity cards registry, a database that will see Kenyans receive one ID containing information from the tax office, Registrar of Motor Vehicles and the Registrar of Persons.

Registering for the new cards was meant to begin last month but is yet to kick off, with President Kenyatta on Wednesday directing that “the process should begin without further delay”.

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