Human rights activities date back to the early years of national development across the globe and have served as standard tools for governments to coordinate and prioritise actions on a topic. Business and human rights are basically international human rights laws set to protect against human rights abuse within their territories that they impact.
For instance, the National Action Plan on Business and human rights in Kenya was drafted and published by the AG in 2019 and has since been in the cabinet awaiting approval to be implemented.
However, the NAP draft makes no reference to human rights in the context of technology development and use. It speaks broadly to applicable safeguards in the context of business human rights.
For example, it recommends state legislates to require companies to conduct due diligence on their impact of human rights reporting and non-financial reporting. it also mentions the gaps in privacy and data protection and freedom of expression.
Technology in recent days has become a powerful tool for human rights activities. Without tech issues being highlighted in the Human Rights framework, there will be a gap in the understanding of the human rights issues in the tech world.
Identified Human Rights Issues within the tech sector
There have been uprising issues on Business and Human rights within the technology sector.
The changing nature of the sector considering the development of new software and technology, the increasing use of digital products, and the threat of authoritarian government intervention, makes it essential for ICT companies to continuously reflect on these factors and strengthen their approach to human rights.
Business and human rights activities such as the right to freedom of expression, the right to privacy, the right to credit for personal works, the right to digital access, and the right to our identity have been violated by tech companies operating in Kenya.
Which, if Kenya adopts a data protection law for instance on the collection, centralisation and sharing of personal data the use of Population Registration Systems like the Huduma Number would cap some of the data breaches.
The government has also been reluctant on passing laws that protect Human Rights activities online. For instance, It has been encouraging young Kenyans to take up ICT jobs while still introducing the ICT practitioners bill to license them.
While there are clauses in the National Action plan that addresses how businesses should treat data for the safety and human rights of their clients, the companies have been on the loose to use the data wrongfully.
Most of these companies once you do the transaction with them, they then adopt a habit of sending you spam with texts on their offers which is a breach of privacy.
With the current times, transactions, education, and social engagements are shifting to the online space. There is a growing need for maximum security on data collected both by state and private entities.
Much less has been done by the government on cyber repression especially on surveillance, censorship, and social monitoring that provides a rich & comprehensive means of social and political control an activity that has been employed by several governments in Africa.
Actions in place for tech issues in business and human Rights
In 2019, BAKE hosted CSOs and Tech SMEs working in Nairobi to create awareness about Human Rights Issues within the tech sector.
Since then, there have been various public awareness campaigns that are projected towards achieving full representation of tech issues in the business Human Rights issues.
BAKE has also been pushing for the approval of the NAPS that which will then lead to the formulation of the task force that will edit the existing regulation policies, administrative procedures related to privacy and data protection frameworks in Kenya.
The #DigitalRightsKE campaign is one of the major activities that BAKE has been engaging in to create awareness on Human Rights Issues.