JPMorgan Chase is the first major US bank to create its own cryptocurrency.

The bank, which moves more than $6 trillion around the world every day, has created the “JPM Coin,” a digital token that will be used to instantly settle transactions between clients of its wholesale payments business.

JPMorgan is preparing for a future in which parts of the essential underpinning of global capitalism, from cross-border payments to corporate debt issuance, move to the blockchain, the database technology made famous by its first application, bitcoin.

But in order for that future to happen, the bank needed a way to transfer money at the dizzying speed that those smart contracts closed, rather than relying on old technology like wire transfers.

While the bank’s CEO Jamie Dimon notoriously bashed bitcoin as a “fraud” a year ago, he and his managers have consistently said blockchain and regulated digital currencies held promise.

Each JPM Coin is redeemable for a single U.S. dollar, so its value shouldn’t fluctuate, similar in concept to so-called stablecoins.

Clients will be issued the coins after depositing dollars at the bank; after using the tokens for a payment or security purchase on the blockchain, the bank destroys the coins and gives clients back a commensurate number of dollars.

Read More Here.

Last month, the Kenya Parliament passed a concerning amendment to the country’s national identifier law as we had earlier indicated here.

Per Alice Munyua, The rebranded, National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) now requires all Kenyans, immigrants, and refugees to turn over their DNA, GPS coordinates of their residential address, retina scans, iris pattern, voice waves, and earlobe geometry before being issued critical identification documents.

NIIMS will consolidate information contained in other government agency databases and generate a unique identification number known as Huduma Namba.

The government started testing the plan to register nearly 50 million Kenyans for the digital database on Monday.

Some of the counties in the pilot project include Kisii, Kisumu, Wajir Nairobi, Uasin Gishu, Kajiado, Baringo, Marsabit, Embu, Makueni, Busia, Nyandarua, Kiambu, Kilifi and Tana River,

Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said 31,500 kits have been distributed in readiness for the mass rollout covering the country’s 8,500 sub-locations next month.

Before these amendments, in order to issue the National ID Card (ID), the government only required name, date and place of birth, place of residence, and postal address.

The key concern with the huduma number which most Kenyans are asking is why we need yet another unique identifier in addition to all the information that the government already has. The concern from a human rights perspective is that the scope of personally identifiable data sought by the Government is beyond what would be deemed necessary and thus contrary to the data protection principle of data minimisation. From a constitutional perspective, the issue is that there was no public participation as required per law in introducing the clause through the Statutes Miscellaneous Act.

Since the announcement of the roll out of the Huduma Number, we have heard of two cases filed to stop the process.

One by the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) in whose court papers, notes that the law is vague on what constitutes ‘personal information’ to be surrendered to the State. Further, KHRC says that this is against the Constitution-guaranteed right not to have information related to their families or private affairs unnecessarily required.

The second, the Nubian Rights Forum who filed a petition in the High Court of Kenya to challenge the constitutionality of NIIMS and the amendments that created it.

Per the Nubian Rights Forum, they are concerned that the population register was established through a miscellaneous amendments bill (rather than through a dedicated piece of legislation) and without adequate public participation in the process.’

Further, ‘Kenya also lacks an adequate legal framework for data privacy and protection, which is an essential foundation for a database that will include personal and biometric details on all Kenyans.’

Please note that we have two proposed data protection bills, one from the senate and one from the Ministry of ICT led taskforce which you can read more on here and here.

Read More Here. here, here, and Here

Nine Democrats in the US Senate, sent letters to the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission asking the agencies to reject T-Mobile’s proposed $26 billion deal to buy Sprint.

The letters addressed to Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai urge the regulators to put the brakes on the merger. The senators said the merger is “likely to raise prices for consumers, harm workers, stifle competition, exacerbate the digital divide, and undermine innovation.”

If approved, the merger, announced in April, would reduce the number of national wireless carriers in the US from four to three. In 2011, the FCC and Justice Department rejected AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile, saying the reduction in competition would harm consumers.

“Antitrust regulators around the world have consistently blocked four-to-three mergers in the mobile and telecommunications industry, and those who have allowed such mergers have lived to regret it,” they wrote in their letter to Pai.

T-Mobile USA and Sprint in August 2018 announced an agreement to merge, a deal that would combine the US mobile industry’s third and fourth biggest carriers to create a giant nearly as large as AT&T or Verizon Wireless. The all-stock merger deal would have T-Mobile acquire Sprint for $26 billion worth of stock.

This merger is particularly of interest in Kenya as two telecommunications services providers are seeking to merge as well as indicated here.

The latest data from Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) covering three months to September showed, Airtel the Kenyan subsidiary of Indian telecom giant Bharti Airtel, had a market share of 22.3 per cent while Telkom had nine per cent. We are yet to see the decision of the Competition Authority of Kenya and whether it will approve the merger as proposed.

Read More Here.

PC: Church Mag

As we celebrate the month of love, this February, reports have come out showing that more than 21,000 Americans reported falling for romance-related scams in 2018, losing a total of $143 million and making it the most common type of consumer-facing fraud in the last year.

Romance-related schemes involve an alleged scammer setting up a fake personal profile on social media or dating websites to woo potential victims.

Scammers then ask their smitten targets to send them money for fake emergencies or other major expenses; they typically ask for the money through gift cards and other reloadable cards, which are quicker, more anonymous than other forms of payments and harder to reverse.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said it received more reports of “romance scams” than other consumer-facing fraud last year and that schemes involving dating or courtship are quickly rising in popularity.

The agency also said that reports of romance-related scams jumped from 8,500 in 2015 to more than 21,000 in 2018, with the total cost rising from $33 million to $143 million in the same time.

Such scams primarily target Americans ages 40 to 69, who fall victim to romantic schemes twice as often consumers in their 20s, according to the FTC. Older victims also lost the most money, reporting a median loss of $10,000 from romantic scams.

We do not have similar reacher or access to statistics on the crime rate for related crimes in Kenya but it would be interesting to see how cybercrime and computer related crimes have evolved globally as well as in Kenya with increased Internet penetration and enhanced digital literacy.

Read More here.

This past week, US President Trump signed an executive order meant to spur the development and regulation of artificial intelligence.

AI technology is believed to define the future of everything from consumer products to health care to warfare.

The executive order is aimed to better educate workers in the field, improve access to the cloud computing services and data needed to build A.I. systems, and promote cooperation with foreign powers.

In the United States, the Defense Department has accelerated efforts to embrace A.I., shifting $75 million of its annual budget to a new office that will develop these technologies. Other government agencies also have major projects in the works.

In Kenya, a Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence Taskforce was set up by The Cabinet of ICT to look at the possibility of adopting and integrating the use of this technology in public service delivery as well as across the industry.

The Taskforce completed its research and submitted this to the Cabinet Secretary. We are awaiting its release to the public for further review.

Read More Here.

Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Kenya to be built with the support of the Korea government.

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has contracted with the Kenya Government on the launch and construction of a similar educational institution called Kenya Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)..

The establishment of the research institution, which is said to cost the state KES 10 billion (USD 95 billion) was signed in a fair held at Konza.

The project will be constructed in Konza, the technology city. In 2008, the Government of Kenya approved the creation of Konza Technology City as a flagship Kenya Vision 2030 project. Vision 2030 aims to create a globally competitive and prosperous nation with a high quality of life by 2030. As part of this vision, Konza will be a sustainable, world class technology hub and major economic driver for Kenya.

Konza is intended to be a smart city, with an integrated urban information and communication technology (ICT) network that supports delivery of connected urban services and allows for efficient management of those services on a large scale.

As recognized by the draft ICT Policy, Kenya is not the only country with insufficient numbers of skilled and experienced experts in ICT and in other professions that rely on ICT.

The main policy objectives include to increase the size and quality of ICT-skilled human resource base in Kenya and to incentivize industry with ICT specialization to conduct their own training programmes and to
contribute to institutional training programmes.

Per the draft policy, in order to have global competitiveness of ICT products and services the government will
encourage universities to establish post-doctoral research fellow positions on contractual and attractive terms in order to attract world-class researchers.

This agreement enforces the intended policy position and is a step in the right direction in terms of increasing knowledge and skills on ICT in Kenya.

As reported by Techweez here,

Kenya’s national anthem has been ‘stolen’ by foreign company. Has it really?

As written by IP Lawyer Liz Lenjo, in the past week the internet has been buzzing over this video on the Kenyan vlogger’s use of the Kenyan Anthem.

The video was discussing their views on some of the greatest national anthems while sampling them for their audience. To their surprise their video was flagged for a copyright infringement claim as the content ID had been claimed by a third party.

About Copyright

Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection which covers different forms of expression of an idea. One thing, can be copyrighted a million times over based on its expression. For instance, a rose – a photographer could take a photo of the rose, they have copyright, a poet could write about this rose = copyright, a sketch artist could draw this rose, sopyright, a rapper could rap about the rose and an acapella band sing on this rose, each of these people have a right in copyright.

Also, important to note, is that copyright subsists automatically. That as soon as the work is expressed, protection begins to run. It does not have to be registered in order to be protected.

Public Domain 

As with any form of intellectual property, the catch is that upon the expiry of a certain period of time, because of the usefulness of this new innovation/work, the public should have access to it. It should be for the common good. With copyright, in most cases, the protection lapses after 50 years of the life of the author, or from when the work was created.

The National Anthem

I am nearly certain that no person or entity holds the certificate of registration for the national anthem of Kenya. No person can restrict any Kenyan or person for that matter, from using the national anthem if it is being honorably used of course. The anthem is definitely over 50 years old, therefore in the public domain.

So is it really accurate that the anthem has been copyrighted by a third party foreign company?

Read More Here

Oral arguments were presented in the most prominent lawsuit challenging the federal government’s repeal of broadband access rules known as net neutrality.

The Federal Communications Commission approved the rules in 2015 to ensure internet users equal and open access to all websites and services.

More than 30 states have introduced bills to add their own net neutrality protections. Nine, including California, New York, Rhode Island and Washington, have approved such regulations.

In repealing the net neutrality rules, the commission included a provision barring states from creating their own regulations. The goal was to avoid a patchwork of rules across the country.

Traditionally, states had authority over telecommunications within their borders, but companies and the federal government have argued that the internet’s global nature makes it harder to regulate state by state.

The case is just one front in the fight over net neutrality in the United States. There has not been any precedent on net neutrality in Kenya.

Read More Here and Here 

From February 22, 2019 to February 24, 2019, over 5,000 participants will participate in the Global Legal Hackathon.

People will pitch ideas, form teams, and create technology-based legal solutions. At the end of the weekend, these teams will present their solutions to a judge panel. Ultimately, there will be one winning team at each location, where they will move on to the next round.

The Global Legal Hackathon 2019 organizes law schools, law firms and in-house departments, legal technology companies, governments, developers, and service providers to innovation in the legal industry across the
globe.

It brings together the best thinkers, doers and practitioners in law in support of a unified vision: rapid development of solutions to improve the legal industry, world-wide.

Are you a lawyer, developer, IT professional, entrepreneur or IT or law student? If so, the organizers would love to have your participation in the Global Legal Hackathon 2019 in Nairobi!

The Global Legal Hackathon in Nairobi will be hosted by the Lawyers Hub on 22nd – 24th February 2019 with support from the Law Society of Kenya.

The Global Legal Hackathon is a non-profit organization that organizes law schools, law firms and in-house departments, legal technology companies, governments, and service providers to innovation in the legal industry – across the globe. It brings together the best thinkers, doers and practitioners in law in support of a unified vision: rapid development of solutions to improve the legal industry, world-wide.

Register here.

Eighty-two per cent of the students who sat the bar examinations at the Kenya School of Law last year failed.

A report by a task force chaired by lawyer Fred Ojiambo released in 2017 shows that from 2009 to 2016 only 7,530 out of 16,086 students passed the bar exams while 8,549 failed. That is a failure rate of 53 per cent.

The worrying trend has forced the Law Society of Kenya to start investigations into the mass failure.

The task force chaired by lawyer Esther Chege was set up in line with a judgment issued in 2017 by Justice John Mativo who ordered investigations into the large number of failures at KSL.

Those who fail are allowed to re-take the exams within five years.

The statistics indicate that of all the 1,628 students who re-sat the exams, only 186 passed.

That means a staggering 89 per cent of students sitting the exams for at least the second time failed.

The Kenya School of Law is the only bar school in Kenya as mandated by law to offer Advocates Training. Its exams are set and marked by the Council for Legal Education.

The current Council of Legal Education/Kenya School of Law was established as an independent statutory body in 1995 with the specific mandate to: organize and conduct courses for the development of legal professionals; conduct courses for Government personnel on the general understanding of the law and organizing Para-legal courses and programmes.

PC: Blair Shapera 

Read More Here