Safaricom’s Lipa na M-Pesa customers will now not need to worry about their crucial information being peddled to third-party users thanks to a new feature that will block the details when they use the mode of paying for goods and services.

It is an open secret now that crucial data belonging to Kenyans has been sold all over the place with victims getting messages from advertisers, companies, fraudsters, alleged prisoners, direct sellers, or finding themselves as members of various political parties without their approval.

Unlike in the past when customers left their details with various merchants, the new feature will change things as only the first and last numbers of the user will be displayed thus hiding the full contact of the customer.

According to the Business Daily, the plan is to hide your number where it will display say the first two or three numbers and the last ones and block out the middle, just the way banks do.

A recent survey by consulting firm Ernst & Young revealed that 41 percent of companies share their customer data with other service providers while about 53 percent of the companies failed to seek permission before going ahead to share the data.

The blatant sharing of data has much to do with the fact that it has become the new oil that can make one earn much money; a fact known by unscrupulous data brokers who are known to get the data from loyalty programs, surveys, censuses, surveys as well as other public records.

The data is used for processing transactions, by advertisers, sending SMS alerts, analysis, and in some cases it is used for investigations by law enforcement officers and no one seems to be concerned that it goes against Data protection laws.

The Data Protection Act in Kenya governs the use, processing, and archiving of personal data, establishes the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, makes provision for the regulation of the processing of personal data, stipulates the data producers’ rights, and specifies the obligations of the data controllers and processors

“The problem is some of the organisations have not started internalising the requirements provided by the Act. So up to now organisations have been sharing information freely and this is a violation of the Act,” said Robert Nyamu, digital, analytics, and cybersecurity solutions partner at Ernst & Young